The yellow Fortuny dress sums it all up.
According to the New York Times, Gloria Vanderbilt told her son Anderson Cooper, before her death in 2019 at the age of 95, that she wanted to be cremated in her Fortuny dress, the same yellow dress she wears in a life size portrait that hangs in the eclectically appointed living room of her Manhattan apartment that has just come to market at $1.125 million.
If anything can epitomize the New York City glamor of this grand old dame’s life, it is that spectacular dress, reminiscent of Mary McCarthy’s iconic novel “The Group”. In it, the character Kay was buried in her dream dress, a Fortuny design bought for her by her friends.
The indomitable heiress may have been born to a life of leisure and high culture but she had a lot to cope with during life: her father’s death as a baby, her mother losing custody of her in a famous battle with her aunt at age 10, four marriages, the last one lasting 15 years, and the suicide of her son Carter at age of only 23. She had money worries, tax troubles, and then, in the 1980s, a triumph with a pair of skin-tight designer jeans, each pair her name sewn into the back pocket. Through it all, she remained eternally optimistic. Cooper, quoted in the New York Times, said, “She always felt the next great love affair or the next great adventure was right around the corner.” Pink lacquered walls, Russian icons, and her own collages bear witness to a cheerfully optimistic attitude.
Her longtime apartment, in Manhattan’s Beekman Place neighborhood, underscores her more-is-more approach to life. Decorating is autobiography, she said, and her many homes over the years demonstrated her love for life. While in need of some work to bring it out of the 80s, the apartment is as flamboyant and fun-loving as the woman herself. Layers of mirrors swathed and swagged in bright silks, artwork, rugs and lighting all jostle for attention. There are two bedrooms and three bathrooms, a dining room, and a kitchen with a breakfast room.
The apartment seems reasonably priced but Beekman Place isn’t as tony as it used to be. Plus, apartment is on a low floor and the monthly maintenance charges ring up to a hefty $4,311. The provenance, though, is priceless.
The apartment is available through Ileen Schoenfeld and Aracely Moran of Brown Harris Stevens.