Famous as the first woman to head a Fortune 500 company, Claiborne founded the Liz Claiborne Inc. women's clothing business, which grossed over twenty million dollars in its first two years of existence. By 1981, the company had sold more than one billion dollars worth of merchandise.
At age twenty, she won Harper's Bazaar's Jacques Heim National Design Contest and subsequently worked as a Manhattan Garment District-based artist for Tina Leser's sportswear company and for a number of other fashion houses and designers.
In her retirement, she financially supported numerous environmental foundations and funded PBS's Nature series.
Born in Brussels, Belgium, to an American family with Louisiana roots, she spent a large portion of her youth in Maryland, U.S.A. Her brief first marriage produced a son; her second marriage, to Arthur Ortenberg, lasted from 1957 until her death of cancer in 2007.
She and Coco Chanel are both major names in the women's fashion world.
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