Socialite Zelda Kaplan Collapses on the Front Row, Dies

While New York Fashion Week is no stranger to tragedy -- Alexander McQueen passed away during the week in 2010 and just this week, news of Whitney Houston's passing eclipsed the weekend's shows -- but Wednesday brought a first, as 95-year-old nightlife maven collapsed on the front row of a show at Lincoln Center, and was later pronounced dead.

Kaplan was sitting at the front row of the Joanna Mastroianni show when, according to the Post, she "slumped forward" after the second model took the runway. She was carried out of the show and later pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital. According to the AP, she was actually sitting right next to another experienced member of the fashion set, Ruth Finley, who has been managing the Fashion Calendar for nearly 70 years.

“I was sitting right next to her. She flopped over in my lap,” said Ruth Finley, publisher of the Fashion Calendar. “The show was just starting. I thought she fainted. Two men carried her out.”

Kaplan was known primarily for her nightlife prowess -- always out late, attending art gallery openings and events at the city's hottest clubs, lingering long after anyone else anywhere near her age. Big sunglasses, big hats, and bold prints were her signature, making her hard to miss in a packed crowd. Kaplan was even the subject of a documentary in 2004 called "My Name is Zelda."

Richie Rich, a fellow party kid, likely summed the day's events up best when he spoke to the Post: "Passing away in the front row was how it was meant to be. Zelda loves fashion, so she died for fashion. She would have wanted to go out in style."

Update: Joanna Mastroianni has issued this official statement: "We are deeply saddened to lose Zelda, such an icon of the fashion community. Zelda has been someone I have known and respected over the years. I truly admired her for her individuality and incredible spirit. She had such a love of life and believed in living everyday to its fullest. She will be sorely missed and my heartfelt condolences to her family."

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