The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you.
With more than her share of misfortune, Gloria Vanderbilt has served the prominent Vanderbilt name more than justice. Gloria was born into the prosperous Vanderbilt family in 1924, to soon discover they weren’t so well-to-do.
When Gloria was two, her father died from an alcohol addiction. One of the longest custody battles ever began as Gloria’s mother attempted to control her trust fund. It was said that her mother was indulging in everything from champagne foot soaks to lesbian affairs. Gloria, “the poor little rich girl” then moved to the wealthiest part of Long Island to live with her Aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. “Aunt Ger” would soon open the Whitney Museum of Art and become one of Gloria’s largest inspirations.
As a little girl, Gloria had a stutter and terrible nightmares, but as time progressed, so did she. It must have been her dark hair, piercing eyes and radiant smile that put Gloria’s picture all over social columns and on the sides of brilliantly handsome men: Howard Hughes, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Leopold Stokowski and many others.
Confidence and success followed Gloria through school at the Art Student’s League in New York City. After viewing her independent art shows, Hallmark was impressed with her watercolors, oil paintings and pastels, and they began licensing her work. Bloomcraft, a textile manufacturer contracted Gloria to design linens, china and glassware. Gloria began designing eyewear, clothing and perfume and licensing them out.
In 1979 one of the companies that owned Gloria’s apparel licensing, the Murjani Corporation, requested she design a new line. Gloria launched her largest product and her emblem would be stamped on the behinds of women around the world. She designed jeans that were more tightly fitted than what woman had worn before. Gloria Vanderbilt’s jean line once again put the Vanderbilt name in business headlines and sales were outsized. Women today still choose the Swan; the symbol Gloria marked her products with, to show their style.
Gloria has had more than her share of hardships but always triumphs over them all. Much like ‘The Ugly Duckling’, (the swan), Gloria never was like the others but surprised everyone as with radiance that could not be weakened.