Maxine Birley was born into a prominent family, the daughter of the portraitist Sir Oswald Birley and the Irish horticulturalist and artist Rhoda Lecky Pike. In 1946, she married the French aristocrat Comte Alain de la Falaise and adopted the first name "Maxime." She became the mother of the fashion model Loulou de la Falaise. Her second husband was the art historian John McKendry.
Maxime was a noted fashion model durig the 1950s and worked with the couturiere Elsa Schiaparelli. She was photographed by Georges Dambier and Cecil Beaton, among others. She later published two cookbooks, Seven Centuries of English Cooking: A Collection of Recipes (1973), and Food in Vogue (1980) with her own illustrations.