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Launch of Gloria Vanderbilt's Steamy New Tale Draws a Crowd

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Diane von Furstenberg and Gloria Vanderbilt   
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If sex sells, then expect Gloria Vanderbilt's new novella to go soaring off shelves. Obsession, according to the Times, "may be the steamiest book ever written by an octogenarian." No huge surprise, then, that plenty of eager readers turned up at the launch party thrown by Diane von Furstenberg at her downtown boutique, where the author signed copies for admirers ranging from Barbara Walters to André Leon Talley.

Vanderbilt, a noted conqueror of men (Brando, check; Sinatra, check) and designer of jeans, owned up to some high-profile liaisons in her 2004 memoir, It Seemed Important at the Time. But the prose in this fictional work is more, shall we say, unbuttoned. "It brought me back to when I was in boarding school in England, hiding under my covers reading Story of O," von Furstenberg confided, referring to Pauline Réage's infamous kinky-sex tale.

Addressing the crowd, Vanderbilt said she'd had no reservations about writing it: "When two dearest close friends, after reading an earlier draft, cautioned that if published, it would ruin my repu-ta-tion, I restrained myself from saying, 'Oh goodie!' " Consider Salman Rushdie impressed. "Writing about work and writing about sex are probably the two hardest things," the author mused. "If I'm still doing it when I'm 85, I'll be very grateful." He was referring to writing, we presume? "Amongst other things."

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