Jane Culp Vandermade, the first woman vice president of a major department store in Pittsburgh and the force behind the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Fashion Gala, died on Oct. 3, 2018. She was 92.
She was born on July 16, 1926 to Fred and Gladys Culp who lived in a small town called Schellsburg near Bedford, PA. Her parents afforded her the opportunity to attend Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) where she majored in Costume Economics and pledged in the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. While there, she choreographed and danced in the 1946-47 all-student musical “Scotch and Soda.” She graduated in 1947 and was recruited by the Joseph Horne Co., the once popular ‘carriage trade’ department store with its headquarters on Stanwix Street in downtown Pittsburgh, as a Fashion Assistant.
In 1951, Jane married Richard Vandermade after they met a year earlier at a picnic in South Park. Dick became the International Sales Manager for The Carborundum Company’s Refractories Division.
In 1959, Jane was promoted to Fashion Director at Joseph Horne Co., a position she held until her retirement in 1992.
She enjoyed a long career at Horne’s at a time when department stores in major U.S. cities flourished. In her role as a fashion director, she traveled to Paris 40 times and intermittently to London, Florence, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Dublin. Following her fashion junkets, Jane reported on the fabrics, colors and silhouettes that she assessed during her travels back to the apparel buyers at h Horne’s. After regular trips to New York, Jane and her staff advised the fashion buyers on matters related to fashion advertising and catalogues.
Jane engaged in and provided commentary for fashion industry shows in New York City held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for the New York Fashion Group. She was also a featured speaker at the National Retail Merchants Association at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
For 25 years, Jane directed the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Fashion Gala, a benefit event she created that raised millions of dollars for one of America’s great symphony orchestras. Each year, she produced two performances for the PSO’s Fashion Gala, inviting famous designers to Pittsburgh including: Givenchi, Valentino, Michel Goma, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Halston, and many others.
Jane and her husband Dick enjoyed their retirement and in 2009, they chose to live at the retirement community Providence Point. In 2010, her beloved husband Dick passed away at the age of 87. Following Dick’s passing, Jane remained an active social organizer and founded a social club of women at Providence Point called, “DSW – Divorced, Single and Widowed” women. This popular group of socially active women met every two weeks for wine, snacks and a movie, and became a friendly tradition at Providence Point. Most recently, Jane resided at Providence Point until her death.
She leaves behind her godchild, Jacqueline Rossi, with whom she had a loving relationship for many years. She will be remembered for her quick wit, humor and most definitely her fashion sense.
Service and interment were private.
Arrangements by Laughlin Cremation & Funeral Tributes
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