Gloria Vanderbilt attained icon status to me in the early 70’s, she was a sensation then because of her designs and her artwork. I followed what she did with gingham fabric, using it generously and luxuriously and making it look rich – more like silk lampas. I admired and aspired to design like she did then, watching her collage, and lacquer floors with patchwork.
Gloria had a fearless little girl quality that made her unconcerned with what others thought. She just did it. She had a style of her own and others followed.
Gloria was a mother above all else.
Above left: Family portrait of the Coopers in Southampton, Long Island, New York, March 30, 1972. American author and actor Wyatt Emory Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper sit with their sons, Carter (1965 – 1988) and Anderson Cooper. (Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above right: Gloria reads to her two sons, Carter and Anderson, on a bed in their home, Southampton, Long Island, New York, 1972. (Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Vogue, 1975 – Gloria in her living room surrounded by art; hers and others. (Photo by Horst P. Horst/Condé Nast via Getty Images)
Above left: Vogue 1970 – Gloria seated on the patchwork floor in her apartment, in front of the fireplace, wearing Japanoiserie-styled patchwork, silk caftan with ruffled collar, hair pulled back into her usual classic chignon (Photo by Horst P. Horst/Conde Nast via Getty Images
Above right: Gloria curled up on a couch with flowered printed pillows she designed. (Photo by Horst P. Horst/Conde Nast via Getty Images)
Fast forward to 2010 and the publication of Wendy Goodman’s book, GLORIA. Having lunch with Wendy shortly before, I suggested a dinner party at home to celebrate the book. As we discussed various details, I mentioned making a party favor for everyone. Wendy then proceeded to quote Wyatt Cooper: “She is as exotic as a unicorn and as subtle as an Egyptian cat. She is as crisp as gingham, as sensuous as satin, and as inscrutable as velvet.” I said: That’s perfect. I leave for Egypt next week.” To which Wendy replied, “… and you will return with fifty statues of cats!” And I did. And found the perfect velvet bag lined in satin for each one.
- Charlotte Moss, A Visual Life, Rizzoli Publications
Above: Gingham cake designed by Sylvia Weinstock with Gloria’s initials. The swan was Gloria’s logo and the flowers played critical roles in all of her designs; lily of the valley, violets and parrot tulips.
Rest in peace, Gloria.
Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (February 20, 1924 – June 17, 2019)
Join us over on C’est Inspire to see through Gloria’s eyes – we have put together a selection of her artwork that will live on, just as her legacy.
Text from Charlotte Moss, A Visual Life. To purchase the book, or any of Charlotte’s books head over to our bookstore or click here
Books by Gloria
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1970). Gloria Vanderbilt Book of Collage. New York City: Galahad Books.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria; Roderick, Phyllis Hingston (1977). Gloria Vanderbilt Designs for Your Home. New York: Simon & Schuster
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1979). Woman to Woman. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1985). Once Upon a Time: A True Story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1987). Black Knight, White Knight. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1995). A Mother’s Story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (2004). It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster
- Cooper, Anderson and Gloria Vanderbilt (2016). The Rainbow Comes and Goes. Harper-Collins.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1989). Never Say Good-Bye: A Novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (1994). The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull: A Novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Vanderbilt, Gloria (2009). Obsession: An Erotic Tale. New York: HarperCollins.