Synopses & Reviews
To have lived a joyful life and to have departed that life a victim of a vicious cancer is, in brief, the story of Liz Claiborne's life. But the story is much more than that. Born in Brussels in 1929, the third and last child of a highborn American banker and his delicate, beautiful wife, she was born privileged and taught that privilege incurs responsibilities. She lived out her early years untouched by life and death during the ominous 1930s, until the ominous became the real and the family fled to America. Inheriting her father's love of paintings and museums and her mother's love of costumes and clothing, Liz early on discovered the beauty of everyday things, and at the age of twenty won the Grand Award in the Harper's Junior Bazaar Design Contest, which earned her a trip to Paris to work for ten days with famed couturier Jacques Heim. For the next twenty-five years she worked as a designer and sketch artist before starting her own company with her husband Art Ortenberg. Liz Claiborne, Inc. was an immediate success, and was by 1981 a Fortune 500 company with $1.2 billion in sales. In this book Art Ortenberg does not so much celebrate Liz Claiborne the designer and entrepreneur, but rather Liz the woman. Liz left us more than her work, he concludes, perhaps more than the consequences of her work; she left us herself. The making of that self, and the good she did for others, is the story I tell.
"Though it's more a tribute than a biography, this work from Liz Claiborne's husband and longtime business collaborator, Ortenberg, nevertheless provides a compelling behind-the-scenes portrait of the late, beloved fashion designer, focusing attention on the personal side of Claiborne's extraordinary business achievements (like becoming the first female owner of a Fortune 500 company). Born to privilege in 1929 Brussels (her family moved to America at the start of WWII), Claiborne learned responsibility from her parents and developed a powerful sense of ambition, allowing her to navigate the turbulent world of fashion; after decades of work, she would reach her pinnacle of international popularity in the logo-obsessed 1980s. While the first half of Ortenberg's paean makes an able account of the duo's workaday life, the second half is dominated by Claiborne's slow, painful struggle with ovarian cancer, an exhaustive (and exhausting) account of horrors suffered that could discourage all but the most committed readers. Color photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
In this book Art Ortenberg does not so much celebrate Liz Claiborne the designer and entrepreneur, but rather Liz the woman. Liz left us more than her work, he concludes, perhaps more than the consequences of her work; she left us herself. The making of that self, and the good she did for others, is the story I tell.
Ortenberg does not so much celebrate Liz Claiborne the designer and entrepreneur as he does Claiborne the woman. This work tells the story of that self and the good she did for others.