Published: Mon, June 17, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Gloria Vanderbilt, fashion designer and socialite, dies at 95

Gloria Vanderbilt, fashion designer and socialite, dies at 95

Instead, the 17-year-old Wednesday Hughes' press agent, Pasquale di Cicco, prompting her aunt to cut Gloria out of her will. The money was left to her when her father, railroad fortune heir Reginald Vanderbilt, died when she was only 18 months old, to be accessed when she turned 21.

Vanderbilt's son Anderson Cooper confirmed to CNN the fashion designer and socialite died at her home Monday morning with friends and family by her side.

He added: "She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend".

The socialite, who was married several times, made her name in the 1970s and '80s as a designer jeans pioneer. Her books included 1987's "Black Knight, White Knight", the story of her first two marriages; "A Mother's Story", a 1996 memoir about her son Carter, who committed suicide in 1988; and "Obsession: An Erotic Tale", a 2009 novel she wrote at age 85. The trial around who would take control of young Vanderbilt's life and finances was a tabloid sensation at the time. Her work also graced a collection of scarves before she started the line of jeans and expanded to perfume, shoes, leather goods and accessories. "I always felt it was my job to try to protect her", he said about his mother.

In her final illness, Vanderbilt was accompanied by those closest to her. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, her mother, wasn't ready to be a mom or a widow. At 21, she married again, and had two sons with the legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski. There were paintings she wanted to make, more books she wanted to read, more dreams to dream. More recently, her stretch jeans have been licensed through Jones Apparel Group Inc., which acquired Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel 2002 for $138 million. One of her memoirs told of her romances with Hollywood figures such as Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly and Howard Hughes (she was a teenager at the time), as well as various married men. Ultimately, though Vanderbilt said she didn't dislike her mother, she chose stability.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, attend the premiere of "Nothing Left Unsaid" on April 4, 2016, at the Time Warner Center in NY.

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"I did know that".

Cooper's voice seemed to catch as he relayed how his mother would tell him "I love you, you know that", noting that he always did "know" and feel her love.

"The marriage [to Stokowski] lasted more than a decade, then she met and married director Sidney Lumet, and then my father, writer Wyatt Cooper".

Of his mother's extraordinary life, Anderson Cooper said, "I always thought of her as a visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who'd come from a distant star that burned out long ago. That's where we learned she had very advanced cancer in her stomach and that it had spread". She spent a lot of time alone in her head during her life, but when the end came, she was not alone.

"What an extraordinary life". She went on to call Vanderbilt an "incredible woman".

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