Zelda Kaplan

New York’s nightlife and fashion worlds are in mourning after 95-year-old socialite Zelda Kaplan collapsed at a Fashion Week show and died shortly after.

Kaplan had become a stalwart of the New York social scene and was often seen at gay nightclubs, fashion shows and parties late into the night.

She was in some ways similar to the late Granny Lee who was a regular on the Johannesburg clubbing scene in the eighties, although, unlike Lee, Kaplan was known for her sense of style.

On Wednesday, the veteran party animal collapsed at the front row of the Joanna Mastroianni show at New York Fashion Week.

She was taken to a nearby hospital but emergency staff were unable to revive her. The show went on without her.

“Passing away in the front row was how it was meant to be,” designer Richie Rich, told The New York Post. “Zelda loves fashion, so she died for fashion. She would have wanted to go out in style. Zelda always said, ‘Live, live, live and have fun.’ I hope the angels are holding her right now.”

A former New Jersey housewife, ballroom dance instructor and professional golfer, Kaplan started partying in New York when she moved there in the 1960s.

She was also involved in philanthropic work and travelled to Africa to lobby for women’s rights and an end to female circumcision.

In 2010 she told The Village Voice that her bedtime was “anytime between midnight and 7 a.m.” and that her mortal enemy was “death”.

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