Aimée de Heeren

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Aimee de Sá Sottomaior Heeren
Aimee de Heeren (neé Sotto Maior) taking internet lessons at the Cybercafe de Paris in Paris in 2003.jpg
Aimee de Sá Sottomaior

(1903-08-03)3 August 1903
Died13 September 2006(2006-09-13) (aged 103)
Resting placePalm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Known forSocialite
Spouse(s)Luís Simões Lopes
Rodman Heeren

Aimée de Heeren, born Aimée Soto-Maior de Sá or Aimée de Sotomayor[1] (3 August 1903 – 13 September 2006)[2] was a Brazilian socialite and secret service agent keeping Getulio Vargas away from a WW2 alliance with Germany. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1996.[3][4]

She was the sister of Vera de Sá Sottomaior, who had been married to John Felix Charles "Ivor" Bryce, Randal Plunkett, 19th Baron of Dunsany and Sir Walter Frederic Pretyman. Through her sister, she is the aunt of the 20th Lord Dunsany.[5]

Early years[edit]

Aimée de Heeren was born in Castro, Paraná. She was the daughter of Genésio de Sá Soutomayor, a school teacher and Julieta Sampaio Quentel.

In the late 1920s, she met American inventor Thomas Edison.[6]

Rio de Janeiro[edit]

Vargas (left) with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (right), in Rio de Janeiro, 1936.

In the 1930s, she moved to Rio de Janeiro, where she married Luís Simões Lopes, chief of staff of President Getúlio Vargas. According to rumours, de Heeren was the mistress of the officially married President,[7] and lived at the Catete Palace, the seat of the President of Brazil. De Heeren never admitted to nor denied being his mistress.

Decades after the Vargas' death in 1954, his secret diary was published with multiple references to his "bem-amada" (English: "beloved"). Some historians believe that the "bem-amada" was Aimée de Heeren.[8][9][10][11]

Secret Service Agent in Paris[edit]

In 1938, she was sent to France to find information for President Getulio Vargas. Vargas was invited to join the Axis powers. Dissimulated as a "fashionista" Aimée met many people from society with French, British and also German background. Among them the German lawyer and resistance fighter Helmuth James Graf von Moltke.[12] who gave her confidential information about Germany. With these information she influenced President Vargas to get away from an alliance with Axis.

There was also the fashion designer Coco Chanel, with whom she was seen at many receptions, including the two Circus Bal events given by Elsie de Wolfe.[13][14] Chanel and Aimée de Heeren remained close friends, particularly towards the end of Chanel's life.[15]

According to the US Vogue editor Bettina Ballard, Aimée de Heeren, at the time called Aimée Lopez or Aimée Lopez de Sotto Major, made a huge impact on French society.

I particularly remember the season when Aimee was lionized in Paris. She was so pretty, so genuinely nice, carried gaiety with her like a fan, and she was almost eaten alive. Hung with diamonds, she was pushed from fittings to balls, never allowed a moment for private conquest because every hostess needed her for her party to prove that she could draw the lioness of the season. Aimee just wanted to dance and flirt and have fun. That wasn't what Paris expected of her.

— Bettina Ballard[16]

She was a regular at the 5-star Hôtel Meurice in Paris.

Exile in New York[edit]

Due to the Nazi occupation of France, she was forced to emigrate to the U.S., where she met with Joseph P. Kennedy Jr, the oldest of the Kennedy brothers, who she had fallen in love with while in Europe.[17] Her friendship with the Kennedy family lasted until her death. She later married the Spanish-American Rodman Arturo Heeren, grandson of Antonio Heeren, 1st Count of Heeren, and great-grandson of John Wanamaker, the founder of the Wanamaker Department Stores. They had homes in Paris, New York City, Palm Beach, Florida and Biarritz, but never stayed in one location very long.[1] The couple had one daughter: Cristina Heeren y Sá de Sotomayor, 5th Countess of Heeren.

Several times, de Heeren was in the list of best dressed women in the world, and a 1941 edition of Time magazine included her in a list of "Ten Best Dressed Woman in the World".[18] She was mentioned in magazines such as Vogue.[19]


Over the decades she was invited to many high-profile weddings and events of royalty and the political and Hollywood elite, including:

She was also invited to various state receptions in the Élysée Palace by Vincent Auriol, Charles de Gaulle, Claude Pompidou, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, and numerous galas in Paris and Versailles by Baron Alexis de Redé, including at the Hotel Lambert and the Palace of Versailles.

Later years[edit]

She took online courses at the Crèmerie de Paris.[20] This resulted in the creation of the Brazilian White Pages[21]In 2005, at the age of 102, she traveled to Belgrade to attend the 60th birthday of Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, at the White Palace.[citation needed] She died the following year, in New York City at the age of 103.

According to the phone book of Biarritz, until she was aged 102 she swam in the Atlantic daily while in the city.[22]


  1. ^ a b Rasponi, Lanfranco (1968). The golden oases. Putnam. p. 189. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  2. ^ Paid Notice: Deaths – Heeren, Aimee de sa Sottomaior
  3. ^ Vanity Fair Best dressed list
  4. ^ Ultimate Style – The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. p. 160. ISBN 2 84323 513 8.
  5. ^ "Person Page 9125". The Peerage. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  6. ^ Charlie Scheips, Elsie de Wolfe's Paris - frivolity before the storm, New York, Abrams Books, 2014, 159 pages, citation and photo on page 129
  7. ^ Morais, Fernando (1994). Chatô, o rei do Brasil. Companhia das Letras. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Portuguese review on President Vargas Diary". Archived from the original on 2014-09-06. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  9. ^ "Portuguese article in Terra". Archived from the original on 2014-10-19. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  10. ^ Portuguese article in Istoe
  11. ^ Portuguese article in Marie Claire
  12. ^ The spectator. F.C. Westley. 1 January 2004. p. 44. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  13. ^ Charlie Scheips, Elsie de Wolfe's Paris - frivolity before the storm, New York, Abrams Books, 2014, 159 pages, page 69
  14. ^ PDF file of the Book Elsie de Wolfe's Paris[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Coco Chanel and Aimée de Heeren, history of the Cremerie de Paris
  16. ^ Bettina Ballard In my fashion – memories, New York, David Mckay Co, 1960, 312 pages
  17. ^ "Aimée de Heeren". Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Aimée de Heeren". New York Social Diary. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  19. ^ Vogue. Condé Nast Publications. April 1998. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  20. ^ History of the Cybercafe de Paris (written in French) with pictures of Aimée de Heeren taking internet lessons when she was already over a 100.
  21. ^ [ Brazilian Whitepages created with the help of Aimée de Heeren.
  22. ^ Phone Book of Biarritz mentioning the 2 Queens of Biarritz, Aimée de Heeren and the Empress Eugenie

External links[edit]