- (1924- )Vanderbilt was born in New York and was the daughter of the American railroad heir, Reginald Clay-poole Cooper. She became heiress to a $4 million trust fund upon her father's death in 1925. A custody battle ensued and the name Gloria Vanderbilt made headlines. She studied at the Art Student's League in New York City and pursued a career in art with shows that featured her oil paintings, pastels, and watercolors. In 1968, Vanderbilt began designing cards for Hallmark and textiles for Bloomcraft. She eventually branched out, designing home products including linens, glassware, china, and flatware. Vanderbilt's numerous marriages made headlines beginning with her first husband, Hollywood agent Pasquale DiCicco, whom she married in 1941 but divorced in 1945, the same year she married and divorced her second husband, conductor Leopold Stokowski. Her third husband was director Sidney Lumet, to whom she was married from 1946 to 1963. Her fourth and final marriage was to the author Wyatt Emory Cooper, who died in 1978. Considered American royalty, her foray into the fashion industry was secured when Vanderbilt agreed to put her name on a line of blouses produced by the Murjani Corporation. In 1979, Murjani launched a line of designer jeans and chose Vanderbilt's signature for the back pocket, thus creating the designer-jeans craze that followed. Vanderbilt's swan logo began to appear on moderately priced merchandise such as stationery, scarves, textiles, a home collection, watches, sunglasses, footwear, and a line of fragrances. Vanderbilt wrote several books including Once Upon a Time: A True Story, A Mother's Story, and It Seemed Important at the Time. The sale of her name was like a tennis match with licensors selling her name to other large companies such as Murjani, Gitano, Echo Design Group, and ending up with Jones Apparel Group. The Vanderbilt name is still considered a widely recognizable brand name, though Gloria no longer receives royalties from it. In 2003, the Vanderbilt/Jones Apparel Group signed a licensing agreement with Amerex for a line of outerwear and, in 2004, expanded with a home products line for Kohl's department store.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.
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