In the late 1960s and early 70s Peter Max was everywhere. Or at least his products with his name in bold print were. Max opened a design studio in New York in the early 1960s, but it was his finely honed style of the late Sixties that combines op art, comic strips, astrology and Eastern mysticism that seemed so perfect for the Woodstock Generation. In 1969 he was on the cover of Life, with the title of the article being, “Peter Max: Portrait of the Artist as a Very Rich Man.”
There were dozens of Peter Max labeled products – everything from blow-up vinyl pillows to kitchen wares to clothing. Many of the designs were manufactured by clothing firms such as Wrangler, for which Max designed jeans, shorts, and shirts. Others were advertising items like the decorated vinyl umbrellas that were made for Rightguard deodorant. About ten years ago my friend Corky who owned a vintage store in Asheville went to the estate sale of an optometrist. She found stacks of Peter Max scarves that were made for an eyeglass company.
In 1970 Max designed a line of junior dresses, tee shirts and neckties for the guys which Seventeen magazine featured on the cover and in an editorial. These were only made for a year or two and are very rare (and valuable) today. I guess the very rich artist decided he had enough money to last him for a while, because soon afterward he closed his design studio and semi-dropped-out.
The Peter Max scarves are a bit easier to find, but after spotting this one at Design Archives in Greensboro, I realized that I’d not seen one for sale (except online) in years. So yes, I had to add it to my collection especially since the only Max examples I have are two of his Neo-Max swimsuits that he designed in the 1980s.
The only Peter Max items I remember having as a kid were several of the inflatable pillows. After a while they started leaking, and eventually they were thrown out.