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The Countess Mara Company was founded in 1935 as a luxury men’s neckwear company. It expanded into all manner of men’s haberdashery , jewelry and clothing, except tailored suiting. Countess was purchased by brothers Samuel and Emanual Pulitzer of Wembley, Inc. the huge men’s neckwear manufacturer in 1963, eventually becoming part of the Wemco Corporation, along with labels such as Resilio and Oscar de la Renta. Countess Mara was sold again to Randa Accessories in March 1998.

Founder Lucilla Mara de Vescovi (1893–1971), was born to a wealthy family in Rome. De Vescovi married three-time American tennis singles champion Malcolm Douglas Whitman in 1926. After his death in 1932, Vescovi Whitman founded Countess Mara in 1935. She was often referred to with the title of Countess, but it was, as the NY Times noted in 1958, “a title earned not by birth but by copywrite“.

Countess Mara ties were famous for the C.M. initials de Vescovi had placed on the outside blade of every of tie. She also produced only limited runs of each exclusive design, a total 180 or so, and kept them expensive, enhancing the “collector” appeal. Her designs featured a wide variety of themes from Nature to Lady Godiva, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to torn love-letters, and even safety pins.

The first Countess Mara custom accessories store opened In NYC at 338 Park Ave in 1938. By 1946, the store was selling an expensive range of men’s wear including handprinted and solid ties, silk dressing gowns, imported French and Swiss handkerchiefs, scarfs, gloves, and socks.

The next retail venue opened at 110 East 57th in 1958 and carried luxury goods, with exclusive necktie designs, vicuna socks, jewelry in onyx, hematite, and smoky topaz in gold or silver, plus casual shirts, toiletries, and closet accessories. The NY Times reported that while all the goods were marked with the CM coronet, only the neckties carried the C.M. initials.

In 1963, the 25th anniversary year of Countess Mara, Inc., Lucilla Mara de Vescovi had retired to Bergamo, Italy. With the company now owned by Wembley, Inc., it had been manufacturing, both on its own and through licenses, a wide range of merchandise including sports shirts, a jewelry line, sweaters, robes, toiletries gloves and handkerchiefs. By this time Countess Mara, Inc. had approximately 500 retail outlets in the United States and the two stores in Manhattan. In 1966 the factory opened in Highland, NY and in 1967 a factory outlet opened and expanded.

By 1988 Countess Mara was still selling luxury menswear goods at Park and 57th, and while catering to mature men who could afford their prices, they began to see more young men coming in.

The brand seems to have stopped using the C.M. initials on the blade of the ties by about 2005, if not before. While still holding trademarks, Countess Mara appears to be dormant as of 2019.

Written by Hollis Jenkins-Evans

from a 1950s necktie - Courtesy of TBonita Style

from a 1950s necktie

Courtesy of TBonita Style

from a 1960s necktie - Courtesy of Ranch Queen Vintage

from a 1960s necktie

Courtesy of Ranch Queen Vintage