Style Icons: Gloria Vanderbilt and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

22/08/2011 § 8 Comments

While the Vanderbilt men are infinitely fascinating and iconic, I can’t help but to also be strongly drawn to the Vanderbilt women.  Here I present the two I am most obsessed with, Gloria Vanderbilt, and her aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: two amazing women who always seek (in the case of Gloria) and sought (in the case of Gertrude) their own path.  If you have not yet picked up The World of Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman, I urge you to do so.  Looking at the book’s pictures of the Vanderbilts and the fabulous homes they lived in is a frequent pleasure of mine.

Gloria Vanderbilt is many things: an heiress, a painter, an actor, a muse, a designer, a model, a writer, an entrepreneur, a survivor, an icon.  She brought the Vanderbilt name out of the Gilded Age and into the Digital Age, reinventing herself over and over along the way.

From: The World of Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman

With her mother, Gloria Morgan, and governess.  Gloria’s mother lost custody of her in 1934, after a scandalous trial.  Gloria’s paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was awarded custody.

With aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and cousin Henry Payne Whitney.

With aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
Love the trunks.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney “…was a formidable , complex woman who had emerged from her own trials within the gilded cage of her family and marriage to Harry Payne Whitney…Harry Payne Whitney was the perfect, dashing millionaire match for a Vanderbilt heiress…But Gertrude discovered early on that unless she made her own life, she would suffer the same fate as so many heiress wives whose husbands found their fun and passion outside of the marriage.  Thus she cultivated a life in the arts, both as a patron and a sculptor.  She founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art turned down her offer of seven hundred American paintings from her collection in 1929.”

From: The World of Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, painted by Robert Henri, 1916

Gloria remembers Gertrude as “tall and extremely thin and [having] exquisite taste in the way she presented herself.  At Old Westbury she would wear variations of the same look — beautifully cut English slacks with tailored silk shirts, several ropes of pearls and hats (in the house) made of tweed and a jaunty feather tucked in.  It was considered eccentric in 1932 for a woman to wear pants, and the first time I met her at Old Westbury I was quite startled, never having seen a woman in pants before.”

From: The World of Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman

Fifteen year-old Gloria appearing in Harper’s Bazaar for the first time in 1940, at the request of then fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who met Gloria at Gertrude’s home at Old Westbury.

With third husband Sidney Lumet.

With Salvador Dali.

With Lumet.

With fourth husband Wyatt Cooper.

With sons Carter and Anderson Cooper.

Scooped: Seabreeze Phonograph {also, Win It! – The World of Gloria Vanderbilt}

03/03/2011 § 7 Comments

I’ve already reported on the Ralph Lauren Home sample sale last weekend, but we haven’t yet had a chance to discuss the treasures I found.  Most special to me is this darling phonograph I scored for only $25.  Probably manufactured in the late 50s by Seabreeze, a Canadian corporation that now focuses on “home comfort products” like heaters and fans, the phonograph is in relatively good condition, albeit missing a needle.  If you have any ideas on how/where I can find a replacement needle, do let me know, darling!

I’m not even sure if it works yet, but I was so drawn to the design and lettering, there was no way that I was going to leave without it.  I actually bought it without a plan to get it home.  Luckily, one of the sweet boys working the sale helped me get it in a taxi, and then the cab driver helped me get it out of the trunk, and my doorman helped me get it inside.  A happy and lucky chain of events!  So excited!

Do not think that I shopped only for myself!  I picked something up for you, cherie, but of course!

I’m giving away a special Ralph Lauren edition of The World of Gloria Vanderbilt, a gorgeous book about a remarkable woman.  This special edition comes in a pretty purple keepsake box with a frame-worthy print from a Toni Frissell shoot of Gloria for Vogue at her Connecticut country home, Faraway.  The book details Gloria’s amazing life, from her birth into American aristocracy, her tumultuous and peripatetic childhood, her debut as a beautiful socialite, her marriages and children, and her varied talents as an actor, painter, writer, designer and muse.  The book is simply lovely!

Entering is easy.  In honor of a woman who was undoubtedly classy and fabulous, click around my 28 Days of Classy and Fabulous Things and leave a comment below this post telling me which day’s tip was your favorite and why.

For additional entries you can follow me on Twitter or bloglovin’ or add me to your RSS reader — just be sure to let me know in your comment!

You have until March 10 to enter, and I will announce the winner next week.

Bonne chance mes amis!!

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