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Fashion world ‘fixture’ Zelda Kaplan dies at 95

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New York fashion world “fixture” Zelda Kaplan died Feb. 15 at 95 after collapsing while attending a runway show during the city’s annual Fashion Week. The New York Times said Kaplan “exited this world much as she had lived in it for the last four decades or so of her 95 years – as an inimitable fixture on fashion’s front lines and an inveterate clubgoer in Manhattan.”

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She celebrated her 95th birthday at the Gramercy Park Hotel and was at the reopening of the trendy XL Club in Manhattan in January. She was a “strikingly dressed regular” at Manhattan fashion and society events for decades.

“When Zelda was in the room, you knew it was an occasion,” said Patrick McDonald. “Her lust for life was unbelievable.”

New York Magazine called her a “beloved party animal,” and celebrated her life with a slide show picturing her at glitterati events and benefits for organizations such as Playboy and Bulgari, and with celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Romano, and Heather Graham, among others.

She was born Zelda Berkowitz on a horse farm in Flemington, N.J., to what she once said was a “conventional and middle-class” life that was boring. She was married three times and attended South Jersey Law School. The story of her transition from housewife to New York party fixture was told in the 2003 HBO film, “Her Name Is Zelda,” which brought her national attention.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.

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