You certainly can’t say Zelda Kaplan didn’t love fashion right up until the end. Yesterday, the 95-year-old who has been a staple on the front row of her longtime friend and designer Joanna Mastroianni’s show during Fashion Week, collapsed and died halfway through the event.
After learning of her passing, Mastroianni called Kaplan an “icon of the fashion community” and said “She had such a love of life and believed in living every day to the fullest.”
According to the New York Times, Kaplan was known for wearing oversized glasses, bold African prints, and a toque to match nearly every outfit—which she made herself.
“She was an original,” said Patrick McDonald, a writer for Paper magazine and style-world habitué. “She never wore the same outfit twice but always had the same style. That’s what was so vivid about her.
“When Zelda was in the room, you knew it was an occasion. Her lust for life was unbelievable. She signified that you could be yourself whatever your age and enjoy every moment of it.”’
Kaplan grew up in Flemington, NJ, and after she divorced her second husband, doctor Samuel Kaplan, in the late 1960s she moved to New York, became a ballroom dance instructor, and cultivated her fascination with “primitive cultures,” traveling to places like Mali for exotic wood carvings, and also to Africa to speak out against female genital cutting and lobby for women’s rights.
She’ll definitely be missed on the scene in her favorite late-night spots like the Bungalow 8 in Chelsea.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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