Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019) and Vanderbilt Perfume

Gloria Vanderbilt, photographed by Horst P. Horst, 1966

Today we heard that Gloria Vanderbilt has died at the age of 95.

The headlines are interesting — since Vanderbilt lived such a long and kaleidescopic life, every one begins with a different signifier.

Socialite. Heiress. Fashion Icon. Artist. Actress. Anderson Cooper’s Mother. Writer. Designer. Jeans Queen…

Photograph by Bob Adelman / CORBIS

If you were alive in the very early 1980s, Vanderbilt’s designer jeans empire (a new concept, at the time) might have been first thing you ever heard about her.

Remember “Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans…by Murjani“? and the slightly naughty tagline, “They hug your derrière”? Of course you do.

I didn’t own any Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, although I did try imitating her signature logo on pieces of scrap paper.

What I did own: a bottle of Vanderbilt, a women’s fragrance released in 1982.

Looking back, I’m realizing that this fragrance was probably pretty good. It was created by master perfumer Sonja Grojsman (the nose behind Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Lancôme’s Trésor, Prescriptives Calyx, and Frédéric Malle Outrageous, to name just a few of her hits).

Its sweet floral composition included notes of orange blossom, lavender, pineapple, bergamot, jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, carnation, rose, orris, vetiver, opoponax, sandalwood, civet, musk, and vanilla.

I wore it regularly for a year or two and I loved it.

I still have a weakness for the ads, too — that nocturnal palette of violets and mauves, the swan, and the blurred, impressionistic photography.

And here’s a TV commercial for Vanderbilt. If I still owned some, I’d wear it today in Gloria’s honor.

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