Marella Agnelli

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Marella Agnelli
Born Princess Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto
(1927-05-04) May 4, 1927 (age 88)
Florence, Italy
Occupation art collector, Socialite, style icon, writer, landscape designer, garden designer and photographer
Spouse(s) Gianni Agnelli
Children Edoardo Agnelli and Countess Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen
Parent(s) Prince Don Filippo Caracciolo di Castagneto and Princess Margaret Clarke (after marriage Caracciolo di Castagneto)

Marella Agnelli, born Princess Donna Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto (born May 4, 1927)[1] is an Italian art collector, socialite, style icon and widow of former Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli. Agnelli has often appeared in Vogue. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1963.[2][3]


Donna Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto was born in Florence. Her father was Filippo Caracciolo, 8th Principe di Castagneto, 3rd duca di Melito, and a hereditary Patrician of Naples (1903-1965), from an old noble Neapolitan family. Her mother was the former Margaret Clarke (1898-1955) of Peoria, Illinois. She had two brothers, Carlo Caracciolo (1925-2008), who inherited their father's titles in 1965 and founded the newspaper La Repubblica and Nicola Caracciolo (1931-date), the current - since 2008 - holder of the titles, as 10th Principe di Castagneto, 5th duca di Melito.[4]

She was married in the Church of Osthoffen to Fiat magnate Gianni Agnelli on 19 November 1953 until his death. They had two children:


The accomplished Agnelli, who was educated in Paris, was an assistant to Erwin Blumenfeld in New York early in her varied career, as well as an occasional editor and photographic contributor to Vogue. In 1973, she created a textile line for Abraham-Zumsteg, for which she was awarded the Resources Council's prestigious Roscoe (the design trade's equivalent of the Oscar) in 1977. An avid gardener, Agnelli has authored a number of books on the subject, also providing many of the photographs. Two of her books are about the Garden of Ninfa (1999) and The Agnelli Gardens at Villar Perosa (1998).

More recently, she oversaw the opening of the Renzo Piano-designed art gallery, Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli, built on the roof of the famous former Lingotto Fiat factory in Turin, Italy. Agnelli collection includes Picasso, Renoir, Canaletto, Matisse and Canova materpieces.

The Swans[edit]

The reserved, patrician tastemaker and socialite is also known for her inclusion in Truman Capote's famous circle of "swans"—wealthy, stylish, and well-married women friends whose company he adored because they "had created themselves, as he had done," and "had stories to tell" (Gerald Clarke, Capote, pp. 274–75). According to Capote, Agnelli was "the European swan numero uno," the youngest in a group that included Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, C. Z. Guest, Slim Keith, and Pamela Harriman, among others. In her autobiography, Washington Post publisher and Capote friend Katharine Graham recounts that the author once told her that if Paley and Agnelli were "both in Tiffany's window, Marella would be more expensive" (Personal History, p. 393).

She was portrayed in the 2006 film Infamous by Isabella Rossellini.


Grande ufficiale OMRI BAR.svgGrand Officer Order of Merit of the Italian Republic: Awarded the third highest civil honor in Italy, by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on 13 September 2000.



  1. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1942), 398-399.
  2. ^ VF Staff (1963). "World's Best Dressed Women". The International Hall of Fame: Women. Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ Ultimate Style - The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. pp. 70–73 & 89. ISBN 2 84323 513 8. 
  4. ^ Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1942), 398-399.

Further reading[edit]