In Memory of Zelda Kaplan

Yesterday 95 year old Zelda Kaplan passed away after collapsing, front row, at the Joanna Mastroianni Fashion Show. Zelda lived an amazing life.When we would get together she would always start by telling me how lucky she had been to have so many great opportunities. She traveled the world and collected hand woven fabrics and worked as an activist to bring the issue of female mutilation into discussion.

Zelda had a zest for life. She loved dancing and was a regular at New York’s hottest clubs where she could be spotted dancing the night away in her brightly colored suits and matching hats. When I met Zelda the first thing she asked me was if I liked to dance. When it came to style she told me, “If you look well, then you heighten the atmosphere of a place, but remember to always be yourself. You can’t turn marble into silk.” Zelda definitely heightened the atmosphere wherever she went. I was lucky to have known her, even for such a short amount a time. I will cherish the advice she gave to me and remember her wonderful spirit always.

  • Jon

    Very sad, indeed, but if I reckon if you are going to drop dead, the front row of a top fashion show is a pretty good place to go! It's what she would have wanted… Jx

  • May she rest in peace! Watching her videos and her photos has been truly inspiring! I hope we can all live a long, joyful life and experience such a fabulous farewell. I mean, having your final moments at NYFW is badass!
    I hope people don't see my sense of humor as disrespect.I really think the world of her!

  • She was an amazing woman and it is very sad, but it was quick – she never had to go through the humiliation of slowly dying – and in the front row of a fashion show.
    Living life to the full!

  • What a wonderful woman! Zelda is a role model for people of every age, men and women alike. Her passion for life and for being engaged in life right now, rather than pining for the past or fretting for the future, is a lesson we all need to learn. Here's to you Zelda!

  • This is sad but your post is lovely! Thanks!

    In celebration of her but also of all the ladies with style and a love for life and all is beauty! Celebrating life itself!

    Makes me think of my grandmother and all these inspiring ladies that have paved the way for us today!

    Lots of love from
    Anna Sofia and LYWM

  • What an inspiring woman. At least she died in a way that was fitting!
    Reminds me to be grateful for all the opportunities I have in the future. x

  • 🙁
    God rest her in peace!

  • Love ya Zelda and thank you!

  • are there "Advanced Style" ladies in central and southern Florida…and the tropics…I'd like to see how I can pull this off in Palm Harbor!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing such kinds words for an obviously very cool woman. Your blog is wonderful! We have to respect and admire these women. I lived with my great-aunt Theresa for many years. She passed away at 92 and always said the key to long life is "keep moving and have a hi-ball on Sunday!!" Donna

  • an amazing woman for sure. RIP, Zelda!

  • My condolences to her family and friends and on your personal loss.

    Zelda was a style icon to us all and will be long remembered – in fact – immortalized, because of you.

    Thankks Zelda!

  • I'm sorry to hear that. But with such a great age and such a perfect way to go, I say we have no choice but to celebrate her life.

    We'll all miss her though!

  • Jet

    Zelda was one of my favourite of your advanced style ladies. Such a treat to meet her through your site. Thank you for sharing your friend with us.

  • Que divertidas!

  • What a way to go, ahhhhhhhhhh
    with a full and happy life behind her.
    She will make heaven a more fashionable place indeed.

  • Bless her and those who will miss her. To go quickly while doing something you love sounds like the way to do it.

  • That is sad, but what better way to go than doing something you really enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    what an amazing lady – loved glamour – she would have loved our designer kaftans

  • Just today I wondered if you had suffered the loss of any of your friends from this blog, Ari. She had such a wonderful long life and how lucky are we in having met her, thanks to you?

  • Oh Ari…I am so saddened by her loss. She was a beautiful woman with a zest for life. I am also sorry for your loss Ari, as I know how you love and appreciate all the ladies you interview.
    ::sigh::Sending you a hug::
    What a wonderful tribute for a wonderful woman. Rest In Peace beautiful Zelda Kaplan.

  • Eva

    She'll mess up Heaven and teach the angels how to dance. Rock in Peace, Zelda!

  • "Dressing up is an exercise in creativity". What a great quote.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

  • andrea

    When I heard what happened, I felt bad. But it seems like she passed, doing what she enjoyed- living life. Thank you for sharing the 2 videos so we could learn more about this amazing woman. she is an inspiration!

  • It sounds to me like she lived a long and wonderfully fulfilling life. The rest of us would be so lucky. And how kismet that she fell ill while front row at a show. RIP Zelda.

  • Such an inspiration! What a grand lady!

  • Thanks for a great tribute. Zelda was such an inspiration – even to me, half her age. I'm so glad to have known her through your stories.

  • RIP Zelda. What a blessing, Ari, that you shared her with the world. xo

  • Rebecca

    When I first saw the news about Zelda Kaplan's passing I was very sad until I realized that she went out of this world on her own terms, enjoying her life until the very end.

  • Zelda had such awesome style and a zest for living. My sympathy goes out to her family and friends, but I also have to say that if you have to go, expiring in the front row of a show during NYFW is would be on my top ten list. She died while being fully engaged in her life, bravo!

  • I've been away from reading blogs lately but I just read on Yahoo that Zelda passed away at a show, I was so sad to read it.

  • So sad…she was spectacular.
    Brought tears to my eyes, and so did the film preview!
    This brings me joy and moves me so..

    (And Congratulations on the Marc Jacobs inspiration..that is just awesome.)
    – Irina

  • Sad news. An inspiring, unique woman.

  • Sad news, I'm sorry to hear this – but wow, Zelda was going strong right until the very end. What an inspiration.

  • That is very sad. She was a lovely looking lady. I'm sure she loved seeing you!

  • awww 🙁 may her soul rest in peace. one thing is for sure she certainly lived a full life and that's really what counts at the end of it all. You're lucky to have had the opportunity to feel her presence. She's a definite role model!!!
    Darling Bonnie

  • RIP Zelda… what a fabulous way to go. I love it. Sarah xxx

  • Eva

    I was at this show and when they carried her out it was so terrible. Despite music and models on the runway everyone caught what was going on in that side of the room, and there were these long unspeakably tense seconds when nobody focused on the clothes. Of course, we didn't know she would die later, we thought it was something less serious – the air gets bad at the shows and the music loud, so it might naturally be too much for more sensitive people. I'm still in shock. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  • that's an amazing video of an incredible woman. i love her energy.

  • rest in peace, dear lady. the world is less bright since you left, zelda.

  • Last night at a gathering of the 50 something goddesses I mentioned how Zelda was a woman of style who refused to fade into the woodwork like so many do in later years! Finding your true style allows you to be noticed and remembered with verve! Zelda is still an inspiration! RIP dear Zelda, your spirit continues to live on!! Sorry for your personal loss Ari!

    Hugs Giggles

  • beautiful

  • Zelda was one of those Advanced Stlyle ladies who inspired me to get fit. I admired her style and zest for life and hope I can live life even half as fully as she did. And I loved reading about the textiles she collected during her travels, the "cloth", as she referred to it. Like others who have posted, I was sad when I read that she had passed, but then later when I read the circumstances surrounding it, I could not help but smile. How fitting, for a lady of such style. I have to think that it happened as she would have wanted it to. My condolences to her family. I hope they take comfort in knowing how many lives she touched for the better. Wanda in Edmonton

  • Jada

    I was so touched by Zelda's magnificent nature. May she rest in peace and continue to inspire us all. Does anybody know where I can watch the HBO documentary 'Her name is Zelda' ? Would love to see it and I can't seem to find it anywhere !

  • She was blessed, doing what she loved to do right to the very end. Bless her.