Gloria Vanderbilt Dies at 95; Built a Fashion Empire


By then, she had begun her fashion career, a creation of Murjani’s visionary president, Warren Hirsh.

“The marketing of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans is one of the most dramatic American business success stories of the decade,” The Times reported in 1979. “The key to its success was the marriage of a great name, Vanderbilt, to jeans, which began as the uniform of student demonstrators of the 60s and developed into the fashion phenomenon of the 70s.”

From 1978 to 1984, she earned more than $17 million. She had long since abandoned her interest when the Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel Corporation was sold to the Jones Apparel Group in 2002 for $100 million.

Ms. Vanderbilt wrote occasionally for The Times, Vanity Fair and Elle. Besides several novels, many short stories and books on collages and home design, she wrote a series of memoirs, including “Black Knight, White Knight” (1987), on her first and second marriages, and “A Mother’s Story” (1995), about harsh events in her life, particularly the 1988 suicide of Carter.

She described it in detail: his dash across the terrace of her 14th-floor East Side penthouse, straddling the parapet as she screamed and pleaded, swinging his legs over the side, hanging momentarily, then letting go. It was, she wrote, “the final loss, the fatal loss that stripped me bare.”

Two other memoirs, 20 years apart, conveyed forgiveness for the mother who had neglected her in childhood and who died in 1965; the first, “Once Upon a Time” (1985), was dedicated to her. In lyrical prose, she acknowledged her longing for a mother who had become as mysterious as a lover: “Her face softer than any flower, the petal of her skin pulling at me with its beauty. How I longed to merge into her.”

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