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Gloria Vanderbilt passes away

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

American heiress, style icon, businesswoman and writer Gloria Vanderbilt passed away last Monday at the age of 95. Vanderbilt electrified America for decades, first with the child custody battle that her mother and her aunt fought over her in 1934, then with her multiple marriages through the 1940s-60s and later as a businesswoman who produced the first designer jeans for women in the 1970s. According to ‘The New York Times’ Vanderbilt was America’s most famous non-Hollywood child in the Roaring Twenties and Depression years, the great-great-granddaughter of the 19th-century railroad and steamship magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. In infancy, during the 1920s, she inherited a $2.5 million trust fund which she could not touch it till she was 21 and newspapers subsequently labelled her “the poor little rich girl”. As a grown-up, her friends were Charlie Chaplin, Diane von Furstenberg, Bobby Short and Truman Capote, who was said to have modelled the character Holly Golightly after her in his 1958 novella, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. (Audrey Hepburn played the part in the 1961 film adaptation.) In the mid-1970s, when jeans were cut mostly for men, India’s Mohan Murjani signed on Ms Vanderbilt to market jeans for women with her signature on the back pocket. She set new trends in apparel marketing as the first American to exploit a famous family name on designer clothing. Gloria Vanderbilt jeans soon became a $100 million-a-year business, with skirts, sweaters, jackets, linens and fragrances joining her growing product lines. After years of living on inherited money, Gloria had a share of the profits and a burgeoning income of her own — $10 million in 1980 alone. Ms Vanderbilt, who has written several memoirs on her life, is survived by a famous son, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

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