Did you see the November cover of Town & Country? It features a beautiful photo of Gloria Vanderbilt with the headline “There Will Never Be Another Gloria Vanderbilt.” At first I thought this was a tribute and that she had recently died, but was happy to see that it was simply a retrospective of her more famous and/or breathtaking portraits. Here is one of my favorites:
I remember reading her early memoirs (Once Upon a Time: A True Story and Black Knight, White Knight) in high school and ever since, I’ve been fascinated with her life story. At the time, I just thought they were good books, but having re-read them later in my thirties, I was struck by her ability to write in the voice of the age she remembered in each chapter. Starting with sense memories and a small child’s perspective of the turmoil surrounding her, through the romanticized drama and angst of her teen years, the books end with the growing maturity, disappointments and hope accompanying her early marriages and introduction to motherhood.
Sadly, she didn’t continue the stories until much later in life (possibly due to personal tragedies such as her son’s suicide). But it was interesting to read the more recent, It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir, which covered some of the same memories with a far more frank and analytical perspective.
No matter what she designs, paints or writes though (the most recent book being erotica of all things – at age 85!), Gloria Vanderbilt is an icon, as well as a favored muse of accomplished photographers for well over half a century.
The last Wishing True post featured pictures of my Grandma Olive. I love the dramatic formality captured in old photography, and both my family pictures and the Town & Country spread on Gloria Vanderbilt inspired me to search images of other famous faces…
Didn’t recognize the last three? They are pictures of my Grandma Olive’s sister, Eleanor who was an actress in Hollywood back when people “got discovered” and pictures of the greats featured above her inspired women to dream of glamour and celebrity.
My only question is WHY I didn’t inherit any of these blond goddess genes?! Ah well – I guess I’ll just have to escape into the fantasy world of celebrity memoirs.
*Other good Gloria Vanderbilt related reads include Little Gloria…Happy At Last by Barbara Goldsmith and Trio: Oona Chaplin, Carol Matthau, Gloria Vanderbilt: Portrait of an Intimate Friendship by Aram Saroyan.