Back when Hip-Hop was just getting her swag together, before Baby Phat or FUBU, before Maurice Malone or Dapper Dan, ladies fashion in the culture was largely dictated by popular white designers. Whether they appreciated the culture or not, some brands were hood classics: Liz Claiborne. H. Bendel. Laura Biagiotti. Jordache. Vidal Sassoon. Sergio Valente. Cazal. Kangol. Fendi. Gucci. Louis Vuitton. GLORIA VANDERBILT.
If you were to ask your moms, grandma and them, what did fly girls in Hip-Hop fashion look like back in the day, surely she would tell you that at one point she will point to the swan. Gloria Vanderbilt was a staple in her urban swag and her signature swan on the coin pocket of the jeans was a stamp that said: “You were official!”
A crisp oxford shirt, nameplate, bamboo earrings with your name in it and a pair of those particular designer jeans would separate you from the pack, making you an “it girl.” Some Vanderbilt jeans with a fly Gucci bag and a “Yo Baby Yo Baby Yo” Mickey and Minnie Mouse afforded you the juice to walk into any house party or park jam and turn heads. What those girls from the Boogie down Bronx, East New York, and Rochdale Village did with this fashion dictated what eventually would make the runway during fashion weeks from then up until now.
And so today, with the transition of Gloria Vanderbilt, at the tender age of 95, many are mourning. Despite rumors of her saying that she never wanted Black people in her jeans, a comment denied by her son Anderson Cooper. Also, for years, Ms. Vanderbilt dated an African American singer reportedly named Bobby Short.
Vanderbilt’s life is actually a Hip-Hop story. She was a model, designer, heiress, and international socialite. She had been hospitalized last month. She found out that she had advanced stomach cancer that had metastasized.
In a statement to Fox News her son, Anderson Cooper said the following:
“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life and lived it on her own terms. She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they’d tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern. She died this morning, the way she wanted to – at home, surrounded by family and friends.”
She will be missed and salute for her contribution to early Hip-Hop fly.