While Fashion Week was winding down at Lincoln Center Wednesday night, Diane von Furstenberg was sequestered on the 10th floor of a nondescript Lexington Avenue building. Across the giant storeroom of the mostly digital antique dealer 1stDibs, Patrick McMullan was snapping Bill Cunningham as he took a picture of a small watercolor on the wall. Nearby, Anderson Cooper hovered around his mother, who, in a stunning red kimono, greeted guests to her first solo art show since 2001.
While most people might associate Gloria Vanderbilt with her fashion prowess–her jeans commercials in the ’80s helped define a culture of denim, after all–she demurred at any questions about the fashion world that was teeming nearby. “My work involves all my time,” she told The Observer, referring to her current exhibition, “The World of Gloria Vanderbilt: Collages, Dream Boxes, and Recent Paintings.” With images that included a doll on a crucifix alongside bright, whimsical portraits of Angelina Jolie and Joyce Carol Oates, “The World” is open to the public starting today, and will be going till mid-October. Proceeds from donations will be going to the Huntsville Museum in Huntsville, Ala., where New York Magazine’s Wendy Goodman (also in attendance that evening) held a party for the release of her biography, The World of Gloria Vanderbilt.
“We wanted to do something nice for the Huntsville Museum in return for their warm hospitality,” she said. “And what better way than suggesting the opening of my show be a benefit for the museum?” She also praised 1stDibs founder and president Michael Bruno for his attention to detail while organizing the event.
Mr. Bruno was equally deferential. “Gloria has always been very forward-thinking,” he said of the 88-year-old heiress. “Ever since I went to her studios to see her paintings, I’ve been obsessed.”
And he had put his money where his mouth was, purchasing one of Ms. Vanderbilt’s paintings himself: a large, brightly colored piece called Tenacity that hung near the center of the room.
On the way out, The Observer ran into Joyce Carol Oates by the elevators. We inquired if the author had seen Ms. Vanderbilt’s painting of her.
She shot back, “You mean there’s only one?”