Friday, February 17, 2012

In Memory of Zelda Kaplan - A Life Well Lived


New York City lost its Dowager Icon of Style and women of a certain age everywhere lost a great champion when 95 year old Zelda Kaplan died on Wednesday, at a fashion show (or défilé, for our friends in haute couture), during Fashion Week. The photo above shows Zelda at the Joanna Mastroianni show (photo by Jason Kempin for Getty Images), where she collapsed just moments later.

We met Zelda only fleetingly. Perhaps we were too young for her. Or perhaps - considering the company and the hours she kept - we were already too old. So we don't, unfortunately, have any illuminating personal anecdotes to tell. When we did meet last year, at StyleLikeU's book launch party, she was both charming and lovely. (See our April 24, 2011 posting "Look Us Up, We're In the Book" for our photo of Zelda.)

But this is not the place for a biography. Her fabulous story has already been told many times by legions of admirers.

Instead, to pay tribute to Zelda the Iconoclast, we wrote an irreverent little song. Not so much in mourning for her death, although we do that too, but in celebration of her vibrant life, which she literally kept full right up until the end. The song should be sung to the tune of Cabaret.

Song for Zelda Kaplan

What good is sitting alone in your room
Come, see the mannequins play
Life is a défilé oh gran
Walk in the défilé

Put down the knitting
The book and the broom
Time for a holiday
Life is a défilé oh gran
Walk in the défilé

Come drink the eau,
Come see the show
And wear your hat
Start celebrating
Right this way
Your swag is waiting

No use permitting
Some prophet of doom
To say “beige is here to stay”
Life is a défilé, oh gran
Walk in the défilé

I used to know a lady known as Zelda
It finally was a fashion show that kelda
She dressed up in her favorite black and red
And the next thing you know she’s on the floor and

Though all agreed it really was quite shocking
You must admit her exit was quite rocking
And when I see her now in my mind’s eye
I think that's gotta be the perfect way to

I think of Zelda in the fondest way
‘Cause you could see she relished every day

I bet she said -
"What good is sitting alone in your room?
Let’s go - see some mannequins play.
Life is a défilé, oh gran
Walk in the défilé."

And as for us
And as for us
All of us who once behelda
I wanna be like Zelda

Start by admitting
From cradle to tomb
Isn't that long a stay.
Life is a défilé, oh gran
A great gorgeous défilé, oh gran
Let’s STRUT in the défilé!

We will miss you, Zelda. Thanks for everything you did!

© The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas. All rights reserved.

(Cabaret: original music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb)


  1. Zelda was certainly the reigning queen of this crazy club we belong to. Proof that age simply does not matter and a woman to admire and respect. RIP Zelda

  2. A brilliant tribute to the fashion icon, Zelda. And what gorgeous legs this lady had! Thanks, Valerie, for your creativity. Let's all STRUT our stuff.

  3. A lovely musical memorium - wish I would have had a chance to meet her! Perfect way to go though, don't you think? I feel sorry for Joanna Mastroianni; no matter what was on the runway, it couldn't top Zelda's demise at the show.

  4. Zelda was and is a true inspiration, and a testament that the imagination never dies. What a lovely, celebratory song that, I think, captures Zelda's spirit beautifully. Well done Valerie! RIP Zelda Kaplan.