Suzanne Farrington's letters describe the dresses as embodying a kind of 'unobtainable glamour'.
The broadtail dress, for example, is a luxurious fur dress, but not just any fur. Broadtail is a very expensive material made from the skins of unborn lambs, making it one of the most highly valued forms of lamb fur.
Fur was very much in fashion in the 1950s, making the broadtail dress a highly fashionable and unique item. A great deal of advertising in fashion magazines like Vogue featured fur items.
Vivien Leigh's archives at the V&A reveal some of her dealings with furriers, including buying and storing fur items. A business card for Maximilian is included in her archived papers, for example, as is a card for Hermè Furs in New York. A 'Fur Storage List' from 1961 also lists sixteen different items for storage at Kent & Francis in London, suggesting that furs were a significant part of her winter wardrobe.
Maximilians was a very successful furrier at this time. They established a couture fur shop in New York city in the 1950s to cater to a range of wealthy and famous clientele.
There is a possibility that the broadtail dress was made for Vivien Leigh by Maximilians, given their specific expertise in broadtail. They were reportedly the first to create a suit from Russian broadtail.