Art HistoryA fine arts graduate of New York City’s free Cooper Union, Vera Neumann (American, 1907–1993) started her career as a textile designer. She began her business creating placemats on the kitchen table of her small studio apartment. Her bold colors and striking designs were an immediate success. Shortly thereafter, she purchased surplus U.S. military parachute silk to branch out into what became her signature product, scarves. As Neumann’s company grew, she became known professionally as just “Vera,” and her following became as varied as her products: First Lady Bess Truman selected Vera designs for the White House fabrics, Marilyn Monroe draped herself in Vera scarves for her last photography shoot, in Vogue, and John Lennon was one of the first collectors of her paintings. By the time of her death, Neumann’s designs spanned five decades, and she had been honored with a retrospective of her work at the Smithsonian. She tagged many of her designs with her logo of a ladybug, which to Neumann symbolized happiness, perhaps the secret behind the success of her bright geometrics and cheery florals. Her work is in the collection of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.