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Manhattan Socialite, 95, Dies Front Row At Fashion Show

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If you’re a fan of Ari Cohen’s Advanced Style blog, where the photographer features a bevy of fun, fabulous, fashionable older women, you’ll be familiar with Zelda Kaplan, one of the site’s stars. Identifiable by her large sunglasses and a propensity for wearing African-inspired prints, Kaplan had seen the world over, favoring countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nigeria to which she traveled not only to garner fashion inspiration but also to campaign for women’s activism. A grand life full of goodwill and fashion flair, spanning nearly a century, came to a close yesterday when the socialite passed away at the age of 95.

Zelda collapsed while sitting in the front row of the Joanna Mastroianni show at Lincoln Center, just after she was photographed smiling contentedly in her seat, and was carried out of the show and transported to the hospital. Sadly, she was reported to have died of natural causes later in the evening. Zelda should be remembered not only for her inimitable sense of style, but also as the person who interchanged the New York City party circuit with humanitarian sojourns through remote African villages in defense of women’s rights. In 2003, she was the subject of a documentary, “Her Name Is Zelda,” which chronicled her evolution from docile housewife to emancipated single girl about town to muse of artists and style photographers alike. Zelda said of her own time on earth, “I want to be an example for young people so they aren’t afraid of growing old and a lesson to old people that you can be productive. You don’t have to sit around and wait for death.” Indeed, Zelda set the precedent for a life well-lived to the very last minute. [Huffington PostNY Times]

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