PHOTOS: The Reinventions Of Gloria Vanderbilt

Cathy Whitlock

*Scroll down for photos.*

In a world and time where women with the title of heiress attached to their name spent their days on the social circuit and/or reclining on therecamier, Gloria Vanderbilt was both an anomaly and a creature of reinvention.

Vanderbilt began her career as an artist and eventually licensed her designs to Hallmark cards along with china and textiles (I still have her tulip print shower curtain and pillows from college days in a closet and can't bear to them go for some reason). A career in fashion followed as her namesake designer jeans became an iconic symbol of the eighties and soon her label and swan logo appeared on everything from sheets to shoes. She even wrote an erotic novel at the age of eighty-five whichThe New York Timesnoted, "may be the steamiest novel ever written by an octogenarian."

Much has been chronicled about Vanderbilt who has reinvented herself from heiress to painter to mother to actress to model to designer/businesswoman to writer. Perhaps the definitive -- and certainly the most visually stunning -- book to capture her incredible life is journalist and editor Wendy Goodman'sThe World of Gloria Vanderbilt(Abrams, 2010) published this past week (and written with Vanderbilt's full cooperation). Anderson Cooper wrote a fitting tribute in the book's forward.

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(Photos courtesy of Gloria Vanderbilt)

Gloria and her nurse Dodo in front of The Breakers following her father’ death in 1925
Gloria made this painting when she was ten years old, while she was at the Greenvale School in Long Island.
Gloria at the Mary C. Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island
Gloria with her mother and “Miss Hill, one of the governesses that I didn’t like.” There was a succession of governesses after Dodo was dismissed.
Gloria’s wedding to Pasquale “Pat” De Cicco on December 28, 1941, in Santa Barbara, California. The ceremony lasted four hours. Gloria’s mother sold her father’s champion horse trophies to help pay for the marriage and planned it to the last detail. “It was a nightmare,” remembers Gloria. Members of the wedding party included Betsy Bloomingdale on the far left, Errol Flynn to the left of Gloria, and Carol Marcus at the far right.
The wedding was a major event.
Gloria and Pat during a trip to New York.
Gloria w/Bruce Cabot and Rita Hayworth at El Morocco. “Rita was in New York doing a spread for Look magazine, and she had to wear the same clothing for four days so the photos would look like they were all taken the same day.” Gloria said. (Credit: Courtesy Gloria Vanderbilt)
Gordon Parks photographed Gloria and Sidney Lumet on their wedding day, August 28, 1956.
Gloria’s 1957 self portrait hangs in the entrance of her studio today. (Credit: Courtesy Gloria Vanderbilt)
Gloria and Wyatt Cooper were married in 1963 and created many extraordinary houses together. After their marriage, they bought a limestone townhouse at 45 East Sixty-seventh Street, where they hosted the most beautiful parties in the city. The Christmas card for 1967 featured a Cris Alexander photograph of the family at home: Stan is to the left of Wyatt, and Chris is standing to his right: Anderson is on Gloria’s lap, playing with his brother Carter’s hair.

Filled with beautiful images of a rich, well-lived, often controversial and at times tragic family life coupled with her homes, fashions, designs, paintings and collages, it's a fascinating look into an incredible and unique life. The phrase "they don't make them like that anymore" certainly can apply to Gloria V.