item 9 - Conversation between Grace Kelly and Vera Maxwell, with an interview of Kelly by John Touhey

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Identity area

Reference code

US NNFIT SC.FITA.3.20.4.9.1.9

Title

Conversation between Grace Kelly and Vera Maxwell, with an interview of Kelly by John Touhey

Date(s)

  • 1978 December 19 (Creation)

Level of description

item

Extent and medium

MPEG file, 26 minutes, 15 seconds. Original media format: reel to reel tape. 1 transcript.

Context area

Name of creator

(1901-1995)

Biographical history

Vera Maxwell was New York City in 1901. She trained as a ballet dancer and joined the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1919. In 1924, she married Raymond J. Maxwell and shortly after began her first foray into the fashion world as a model for a wholesale company, eventually starting to sketch, design and model her own clothes in 1929. By 1936 Vera's designs were receiving positive reviews in the fashion press and her freelance collections were receiving attention in New York. She was also designing for 7th Avenue firms such as Adler and Adler, Glenhunt and Max Milstein. Vera opened Vera Maxwell Originals in 1946 and became known for her classic separates and suits, dresses teamed with jackets, print dresses, Chesterfield coats and Wraparound jersey dresses. During the war years, she gained a reputation for her practical sense, which was evident in the one-piece overalls she designed for female factory workers. Her simple lapel-less suits were spare and gave no hint of having been stripped of their decorations, which demonstrated her skill at overcoming the fabric rations of the time. Other innovations Vera became known for were her desire to design for women of short height, or without a model's figure and for women whose jobs took them beyond their desks. In 1974, she designed a "speedsuit" made of jersey with an elasticized waist, which could be pulled on in just 17 seconds. Vera closed her business in 1985, eventually passing away in January 1995.

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Biographical history

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(1929-1982)

Biographical history

Grace Kelly was an American actress. She married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, becoming Princess Grace of Monaco.

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Scope and content

This interview consists of two main portions, the first being a casual conversation between Vera Maxwell and Princess Grace while looking at a photo album. The second portion is a formal interview by FIT's John Touhey with Princess Grace.

In the first portion, Maxwell and Princess Grace reminisce on their times together in Switzerland and their mutual love of tweed. The photo album prompts conversation regarding the accelerating rate of change in fashion, various hemlines, and fashionable silhouettes. The loose fitting styles popular at the time of the interview prompt Maxwell to repeatedly mention classic tailoring and body types. Press coverage of the fashion industry as well as coverage of Princess Grace's style is also discussed.

In the formal interview with John Touhey, Princess Grace describes her relationship with Vera Maxwell and then moves on to discuss trends in women's fashion and how they relate to personal style. She mentions her particular distaste for the "sack look" (likely referring to the gunney sack dress) and mini skirts, both popular styles at the time of the interview. Dior, Saint Laurent, Ben Zuckerman, and Vera Maxwell are all mentioned as favorite designers. An American film actress before becoming the Princess of Monaco, Kelly often had a large hand in developing her film costumes and she discusses working with costumer Edith Head while filming with Alfred Hitchcock.

There is also an interview with Nancy White about 2/3rds into the transcript.

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  • Legacy audio ID no: AOH01
  • Legacy video ID no: N/A
  • Legacy transcription ID no:

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