Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I found this November 2010 issue of T & C in the laundry room of my building on top of a huge stack of discarded magazines.  The cover photo took my breath away.  The face, the neck, the jewelry, the wistful yet determined expression... this was a woman I wanted to know more about.  So I took the magazine home and read the article and was blown away.  Not so much the article as the photos.  Exquisite fashion photos of an exquisite model by Richard Avedon, Horst P. Horst, Gianni Penati, Toni Frissell.  It was obvious to me that these photographers were in love with this captivating muse.  The article was a sort of review of the book that had just hit the shelves "The World of Gloria Vanderbilt" by Wendy Goodman with a foreward by Anderson Cooper ( Gloria's son - just in case anyone in the world didn't already know that).

significant photo for Gloria

I went straight to Amazon and ordered it.  And then I read it cover to cover.  Wow.  Until I read this book I had about the same knowledge of this woman that most people have : she is a Vanderbilt, she is Anderson Cooper's mother, she had a designer jean company in the 70s and there are several perfumes with her name on them.  It turns out all that info is true but is also just a tiny tidbit of what Gloria Vanderbilt is and was and has experienced.
with her parents, briefly

She was at the receiving end of so many of life's cruelties - her father's death before she was even two, her mothers total neglect, a horrifyingly public custody battle, her stern and cold aunt having complete control of her life till her teens, her physically abusive first husband(she was only 17), being scammed out of her hard earned  fashion and design empire while she was grieving the loss of her beloved 4th husband Wyatt Cooper and finally the blackest , darkest, most unthinkable of life's tragedies : her son's suicide which took place before her very eyes just a few feet beyond her reach to save him. Unthinkable pain. And yet she still thrives. In a youth obsessed world this 88 year old woman remains relevant and vibrant.

 I watched several recent youtube clips of her, two of which were her appearing on her son's daytime show.  I was humbled...
This woman who grew up in a world that was firmly planted in the gilded age of the late 1800s, is sitting comfortably on the set of 'Anderson'  in 2012 chatting about current topics with the shyness and exuberance of a teenager. Completely in tune with the moment. Someone who's personal history would send most people into a reclusive world of photo albums and medication, yet here is GV writing books, painting and sculpting, hanging with Cathy Griffin... She is an astounding survivor.

I adore this photo.  It seems to write it's own fairy tale: A rather sad and lost little girl embarking on a solo journey with her scruffy little sidekick.  The road ahead carpeted with wet leaves, not a soul in sight, her chic and modern roadster barreling along...She seems determined to escape from that glamorous and glittering world of carefree grownups who find it easier to ignore her than to try to nurture that brave spirit.  But determined she is and eventually the world of grownups will all spin around in their seats to take serious notice of this striking beauty.


Dali is clearly smitten!

natural and earthy and uniquely stunning

the epitome of the Vogue model

a successful stint as actress

her first child w much older 2nd husband

She was always brave in her fashion and design sense as well as in facing life's dramas.  She created numerous very bold interiors and textiles, glasswear, greeting cards!  She definitely has the Vanderbilt energy for business.

I checked out her website gloriavanderbiltfineart and of course she is still creating, growing, contemplating.  She expresses herself so naturally and thoughtfully.  In her own words, "But most of all my inspiration is appetite for life."

Bless you Gloria for all that you are and for being my muse and inspiration for this post.  I wish you all the love and happiness in the world!

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