When I crossed the threshold into Gloria Vanderbilt’s Sutton Place apartment, I knew just from the fearless pink and black suzani rugs, that I was about to meet an artist, not an icon. When we began to chat it was woman to woman, not journalist to subject. We could’ve been eating in a little café in Greece, lost hiking in a forest, or deliciously gossiping on the phone: it all felt immediately intimate and necessary. Here was a woman who was very much in the present and never shielded about what she had shouldered in the past. However her past was everywhere and it was ever evolving. She liked to move things around from paintings to furniture to treasured objects…whenever I stopped to focus on one, her voice joined me there,narrating its story of how it came to be in her life. For a moment you went back with her to that life and yet she never lost sight of her present presence.
Displayed on the back of a doorway were some letters as if they themselves were tiny artwork and when I remarked that there was one from someone that I knew the amazing coincidence didn’t surprise Gloria as much as reinforce what she already knew about the world.
I was excited to know that she had an email address as I didn’t want our contact to end with our literal visit. That evening I got an email from her in response to my thanking her for her time. Of course the word “star” was in her address.
She had an upcoming show in a few weeks of her doll’s heads, which sounded macabre but you saw them in person the display felt as natural and as vibrant as the way she draped her bedroom in patchwork pattern. A few weeks ago a friend sent me a picture of a cocktail party she was attending at Gloria’s because my book The Power of Pattern was on her coffee table. I went to bed that night thinking if I never sell another copy of a book that I still did something right. #gloriavanderbilt