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Gloria Vanderbilt Was More Than A Fashion Icon—She Was An "Amazing Woman, Ahead Of Her Time"

Even when Katharine Hepburn had been donning pants since the late 1930s, blue denim jeans as we know them today began as a man-centered business. That all changed in the mid-1970s when clothing manufacturer Mohan Murjani sought the expertise of Gloria Vanderbilt—of the New York Vanderbilt family fame, of course—to market jeans for women. 


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Gloria passed away due to complications with advanced stomach cancer on June 17, 2019 with family and friends at her sid. She’d been almost a century old, but her son, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper who had given an on-air obituary for his mother, had said of her: “Ask anyone close to her, and they'd tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern.”


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This young, cool, and modern image had trailed Gloria her whole life as a society heiress, philanthropist, fashion designer, and all-around creative woman. Born in 1924 to Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, equestrian and great-grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and Gloria Morgan, Gloria has been in the public eye from birth, with every moment of her life splashed across the front pages of the newspapers. 

As a young girl in the 1930s, she had been the subject of a child custody trial dubbed “the trial of the century,” between her mother and her paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Vanderbilt had also been the lover of many an alluring men—actor Marlon Brando, singer Frank Sinatra, director Sidney Lumet, and writer Roald Dahl. In the 60s, she married author and screenwriter Wyatt Emerson Cooper and soon gave birth to Anderson. 


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Gloria, with an already-famous and well-known name, had built for herself—and a million other women—a style empire. Her ivory skin, jet-black hair and eyebrows, and striking features were a familiar sight on televisions everywhere in the 70s as she promoted the jeans that, until today, bear her name. She may have been known as a “poor little rich girl,” but her resilience and business-savvy have rightfully earned her that name sewn into the trousers she had so lovingly popularized. 


Actors and personalities have offered their tributes for the late fashion mogul:


Singer Cher likened Vanderbilt to her mother, “fighting against being the ‘little woman,’ strong and fragile.” 



Actress Mia Farrow shared a quote by the fashion icon:



Comedienne Kathy Griffin said she “lost a friend:” 



Actress Dana Delany had shared a story of living near the Vanderbilts in the 1960s:  



Photo courtesy of AFP and @andersoncooper