Full Circle with Zelda Kaplan, Expired on the Venus/Jupiter Conjuction

Zelda Kaplan, 95, in a photo taken moments before she collapsed at a fashion show.

It was a fitting end to a New York fashion icon.

Zelda Kaplan expiring in the front row of a fashion show.

On the day of the Jupiter/Venus Conjunction!


In her death, Zelda Kaplan met her life’s dream: to be on Page Six.

It was a fitting way to go for this fashion icon who inspired a movement dedicated to the embodiment of the spirit in the material.  We met in the wake of the Jupiter/Venus conjunction in  Taurus in 2000.

In an effort among her friends to propel  Zelda into the position of media style icon that she became in death, I accompanied her to the then hip spot, Bungalow 8 on Sex and the City night.  It was the first time, Zelda ever watched the show and she was not only disgusted but affronted by what she saw. “Those girls are too skinny,” she said.    “How can they do that to the English language?”

Zelda was the inspiration for my own quest to merge my love of travel with fashion while honoring the sacred tradition of women weaving the world over

The winged Sky Goddess dress designed by myself and Vandara from her hand spun natural dyed Laos handwoven silk.

As the singular person I met at the time who fit right into the art theory I would be developing in New York City art world for another 12 years, she inspired a book proposal, “Zekda, the New York Style Icon”   Here is an excerpt.

For Zelda Kaplan, dressing for herself every morning reflects a forty year journey of transformation of materials discovered in her travels.   “I know what I feel comfortable in,” she says.  “I try to design things which show off my better parts and hide the bad ones. Because I am short, I try not to have breaks in the lines.  If I have enough cloth, I have the jacket cut on the bias.”

Zelda buys exquisite handmade cloth direct from women in countries that most of us never even heard of.  The woman in these countries generally make 9 or 10 meters of cloth to wrap around their bodies; Zelda purchases the fabric and has it made  into custom “couture” on the spot by a tailor.  She walks away with an original form of global fashion that integrates authenticity with innovation.

In transforming her own expression through handwoven material, Kaplan is also contributing to the transformation of those who make the fabric.  Active on the World Affairs Council, Zelda works hard to protect the rights of women around the world.  She always tries to complete the monetary transaction by putting cash directly in the hands of the woman of the house.  “A man will go out and spend the cash on drink while a woman will use it for the running of the house,” she says.


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