Gloria Rubio Alatorre
August 27, 1913
|Died||November 9, 1980 (aged 67)|
|Resting place||Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery, Lausanne|
New York City
Freiin von Fürstenberg-Herdringen
Franz-Egon Freiherr von Fürstenberg-Herdringen
|Relatives||Victoria Niarchos (granddaughter)|
Gloria Guinness (born Gloria Rubio y Alatorre; August 27, 1913 – November 9, 1980) was a Mexican socialite and fashion icon, as well as a contributing editor to Harper's Bazaar from 1963 to 1971, considered to be one of the most elegant women of all time.
For unknown reasons (some say because of her supposed espionage and others so she could give herself a more exotic allure), Guinness frequently lied about her origins, claiming she was from Veracruz (when she was actually from Guadalajara), that her father was a revolutionary killed in action (when he was a journalist who died of health complications in a clinic in San Antonio, Texas) and saying that her mother was either a laundry maid or a seamstress (when she was well stablished member of the local elite).
In any case, while everyone in her social circle tried to "play it up", Gloria had more fun "playing it down", and as such, transmitted a light and unpretentious attitude that made people easily attracted to her and still be considered "the most elegant woman in the world", according to Eleanor Lambert.
It is only from documentary evidence that it has been possible to establish that Gloria Rubio y Alatorre was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. She was the daughter of José Rafael Rubio y Torres (1880-1917), a successful journalist who supported Francisco I. Madero and died in exile in the United States, and his aristocratic wife doña Maria Luisa Dolores de Alatorre y Diaz-Ocampo (b. 1882)., who belonged to a wealthy landowning family from Jalisco (descendant of the 1st Duke of Alba), and a cousin of Alfonso Reyes. María Luisa's brothers in law included don Gaspar Rubio de Tejada y Benavente, a nephew of Ramón de Errazu y Rubio de Tejada, and don Jesús Colón de Larreátegui y Vallarta, a descendant of Christopher Columbus, through his eldest son, the 1st Duke of Veragua. She had two elder siblings: Rafael and Maria Luisa.
Gloria's childhood was mainly spent hopping around the haciendas of her mother's aristocratic relatives, such as the Villaseñor-Jasso and Sánchez de Aldana families, with whom they grew up, until the Mexican Revolution entered Jalisco and their lands were lost.
Guinness wrote frequently for Harper's Bazaar. She famously asserted, in the magazine's July 1963 issue, that "Elegance is in the brain as well as the body and in the soul. Jesus Christ is the only example we have of any one human having possessed all three at the same time."
Guinness was dressed by various top-couture designers like Cristóbal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Marc Bohan at Christian Dior, Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, Halston and shoes by Roger Vivier.
She was one of the models to wear capri pants by Emilio Pucci. She was photographed for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Woman's Wear Daily by Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, John Rawlings, Toni Frissell, Horst P. Horst, Slim Aarons and Henry Clarke. She was painted by artista like René Bouché, Kenneth Paul Block and Alejo Vidal-Quadras. She appeared on the International Best Dressed List from 1959 through 1963. The year after she was elevated into its Hall of Fame.
Rumour of espionage
There is a long-standing rumor that Gloria Guinness was employed as a spy at some point and that when she married her fourth husband, she had no valid passport and was legally stateless. This rumor is substantiated to a certain degree by her appearance in a series of supposedly nonfiction books written by Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones. Griffith knew Guinness during World War Two and was a friend, fellow spy (originally on the opposite side, the Countess was still an American citizen during the war, and an employee of the OSS), and sometime adversary of Guinness. Guinness was an almost legendary character by this point, the glamorous "Countess von Fürstenberg" who maintained friendships with important Nazis, including Hermann Göring and even Adolf Hitler himself, and lived in neutral Madrid throughout the latter days of the Second World War as an espionage agent for the Axis.
Gloria Rubio was married four times. Her first marriage, to Jacobus Hendrik Franciscus Scholtens, a Dutch-born, Veracruz-based sugar-factory superintendent, took place in Mexico City on 31 March 1933. Rubio was 20, and the groom, a son of Jan Scholtens and Maria Le Comte, was 47. They later divorced.
Her second marriage was to Franz-Egon Maria Meinhard Engelbert Pius Aloysius Kaspar Ferdinand Dietrich, third Graf von Fürstenberg-Herdringen (1896–1975), whom she married on October 4, 1935, in Kensington, London, England; she was his second wife and had a stepdaughter from her husband's first marriage, the actress Betsy von Furstenberg. By him, she had two children:
- Dolores Maria Agatha Wilhelmine Luise, Freiin von Fürstenberg-Hedringen (July 31, 1936—January 20, 2012). She married her stepbrother, Patrick Benjamin Guinness, on 22 October 1955 and after his death in an automobile accident in 1965, she hoped to marry the Aga Khan IV, her late husband's half-brother.
- Franz-Egon Engelbert Raphael Christophorus Hubertus, Freiherr von Fürstenberg-Hedringen (born July 27, 1939 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf). He married Agneta Sundby (born April 12, 1943), a Swedish model on August 20, 1967, in Visnum church, Visnum, Sweden. After their divorce, he married Adelina von Fürstenberg née Cuberyan.
Her third marriage was to Ahmad-Abu-El-Fotouh Fakhry Bey (1921–1998), whom she married in 1946 and divorced in 1949. The only child of Princess Fawkia of Egypt, Countess Wladimir d’Adix-Dellmensingen, and her first husband, Mahmud Fakhry Pasha, he was a grandson of King Fuad I of Egypt and a nephew of Princess Fawzia of Egypt (the first wife of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran) and of King Farouk I of Egypt.
Her fourth, and final, marriage was to Group Captain Thomas Loel Guinness (1906–1988), a Member of Parliament and a member of the extended Guinness beer family, though his particular branch made its fortune in banking and real estate. They married on April 7, 1951, in Antibes. By this marriage she had three stepchildren: Patrick Benjamin Guinness (1931-1965); William Loel Seymour Guinness (born 1939), and Belinda Guinness (born 1941), wife of 5th and last Marquess of Dufferin and Ava.
Among Guinness's lovers were David Beatty, 2nd Earl Beatty, and the British ambassador to France Duff Cooper, who wrote of her, "I have never loved anybody physically so much or been so supremely satisfied".
The Guinnesses had an apartment in Manhattan's Waldorf Towers, an 18th-century farmhouse called Villa Zanroc in Epalinges near Lausanne, a 350-ton yacht, an apartment on Avenue Matignon in Paris, decorated by Georges Geffroy, a stud farm in Normandy, Haras de Piencourt, and Gemini, a mansion at Manalapan, Florida.
The Florida property, which is divided by U.S. Highway A1A, faces the lake on one side and the ocean on the other; the two halves of the building, which was designed in the 1940s by architect Marion Syms Wyeth for Gerald Lambert, were ingeniously connected by a sound-proofed living room that was set beneath the bisecting road. In addition, the Guinnesses built a house in Acapulco, Mexico. They also kept three aircraft: an Avro Commander for short trips around Europe, a small jet, and a helicopter for Loel Guinness's hops between the Manalapan house and the Palm Beach golf course.
Among the seventeen outfits, twelve hats and pairs of shoes that she donated were a 1948 Balenciaga evening gown of organdie with flock flowers, an evening gown from 1965, a 1949 hand-painted evening gown by Marcelle Chaumont and a 1950s evening gown by Jeanne Lafaurie, the only dress by that designer in the collection of Victoria & Albert Museum.
Through her daughter, Dolores and stepson Patrick, she was the grandmother of Maria Alexandra Guinness (b. 1956), who married Foulques, Count de Quatrebarbes (b. 1948) in 1979, and, after their divorce, Neville Cook; Loel Patrick Guinness (b. 1957); and Victoria Guinness (b. 1960), who married Philip Niarchos in 1984, son of Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.
- Mosley, Charles, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 2, page 1695.
- Gloria Guinness, 67, Trend-Setter In Fashion and Hospitality, Dead, nytimes.com, 10 November 1980.
- Guadalajara given as place of birth on a March 21, 1932 border crossing document; accessed on ancestry.com on March 21, 2016.
- The Heirs of Europe: Niarchos, December 27, 2010.
- Etti (Mrs Arpad) Plesch, Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch, Dorset: The Dovecote Press, 2007
- The Rich: Having a Marvelous Time, time.com, January 26, 1962.
- Names of siblings found on 1915 passenger list; accessed on ancestry.com on March 21, 2016.
- Staff (1964). "World's Best Dressed Women". The International Hall of Fame: Women. Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on July 12, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Ultimate Style - The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. pp. 82–85, 90. ISBN 2-843-23513-8.
- Gross, Michael (June 21, 1987). "untitled". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
- Birth and location cited on marriage record in Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1861-1950; accessed on ancestry.com on March 21, 2016.
- Occupation cited on a passenger manifest dated 30 January 1930 and accessed on ancestry.com on 21 March 2016
- Date and location cited on marriage record in Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1861-1950; accessed on ancestry.com on March 21, 2016.
- Ages and groom's parents' names cited on marriage record in Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1861-1950, accessed on ancestry.com on 21 March 2016
- The marriage license, accessed on ancestry.com on December 2, 2013, gives the bride's name as Gloria R. de Scholtens
- Etti (Mrs Arpad) Plesch, Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch, Dorset: The Dovecote Press, 2007, page 156
- The title of Count von Fürstenberg-Hedringen was inherited by Franz-Egon's younger brother Wenemar (1897-1972) and his descendants, rather than by his own son by Gloria. Due to Franz-Egon's marriage to a divorcée, he was forced from the succession, according to laws of the house of Fürstenberg-Hedringen, as reported in the memoirs of Etti Plesch as well as the Almanac de Gotha. Fürstenberg-Herdringen Line: A Prussian graviate; the title was Graf von Fürstenberg-Herdringen, and an estate in tail, Besitz Herdringen, was given on January 16, 1843 to Franz Egon Freiherr von Fürstenberg of Herdringen (1818-1902) by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, Member of the Prussian House of Lords and Seneschal in the Duchy of Westphalia.
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- Bill Patten, My Three Fathers: And the Elegant Deceptions of My Mother, Susan Mary Alsop (Public Affairs, 2008), page 127
- Sheppard, Eugenia,Gloria Guinness Goes Her Own Way, St. Petersburg Times, December 23, 1968.
- Boucher, Jacques, Vogues Fashions in Living - A house for the most elegant woman in the world": Mrs Loel Guinness' Villa Zanroc, VOGUE, March 1, 1961, pp 178-83.
- "On the Block, Grande Dame Décor", New York Times; accessed June 15, 2017.
- Plumb, Barbara, Horst Interior, Bulfinch Press, 1993, page 108-11.
- Evening dress from Balenciaga from 1948, vam.ac.uk; accessed June 15, 2017.
- Evening dress from Balenciaga from 1965, vam.ac.uk; accessed June 15, 2017.
- Hand-painted evening gown by Marcelle Chaumont from 1949, vam.ac.uk; accessed June 15, 2017.
- No author. Thomas L.E.B. Guinness Weds, The New York Times, April 8, 1951.
- Ballard, Bettina, In My Fashion, New York: David McKay, 1960.
- Donovan, Carrie, Mrs. Guinness: Rare Fashion Leader; Couturiers Are Guided by Her Personal Style Flair Has Plan for Dressing for Four Homes in Varied Locales, The New York Times, December 5, 1961.
- No author. The Rich: Having a Marvelous Time, Time, January 26, 1962.
- Guinness, Gloria, Gloria On Elegance, Harper's Bazaar, July 1963.
- Guinness, Gloria, Gloria Guinness, New York: Hearst, 1966.
- Bender, Marylin, The Beautiful People, New York: Coward-McCann, 1967.
- Nemy, Enid, Venice Draws International Set; Masked Ball to Aid City's Craftsmen Gala to Be in Palace on the Grand Canal, The New York Times, September 4, 1967.
- Bender, Marylin, A Prize for Mrs. Guinness, The New York Times, November 2, 1967.
- Klemesrud, Judy, They Expected a Snob, They Heard a Comedian, The New York Times, December 3, 1970.
- Ginsburg, Madeleine, Fashion: an anthology by Cecil Beaton, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1971.
- No author. Gloria Guinness, 67, Trend-Setter In Fashion and Hospitality, Dead, The New York Times, November 10, 1980.
- Payn, Graham and Sheridan Morley, editors, The Noel Coward diaries, Londong: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982.
- Jouve, Marie-Andree and Jacqueline Demornex, editors, Balenciaga, Paris: Editions du Regard, 1988.
- Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Freiherrliche Häuser, Band XV, Seite 135-177, Band 69 der Gesamtreihe, C. A. Starke Verlag, Limburg (Lahn) 1989.
- Join-Dieterle, Catherine, Train, Susan and Lepicard, Marie-Jose, Givenchy - 40 Ans de Creation, Paris: Paris-Musees, 1991.
- Tapert, Annette & Edkins, Diana, The Power of Style - The Women Who Defined The Art of Living Well, Crown Publishers, New York, 1994.
- Jouve, Marie-Andrée, Fashion Memoir - Balenciaga, London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
- Plimpton, George, Truman Capote, In which various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors recall his Turbulent Career, New York: Nan A. Talese, 1997.
- Mohrt, Françoise, Le style Givenchy, New York: Editions Assouline, 1998.
- Mower, Sarah, Oscar De La Renta, New York: Assouline, 2002.
- Mosley, Charles, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 2, p. 1695.
- Vickers, Hugo, The Unexpurgated Beaton: The Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them, 1970–1980, New York: Knopf, 2003.
- Horyn, Cathy, On the Block, Grande Dame Décor, The New York Times, March 13, 2003.
- Zilkha, Bettina, Ultimate Style-The Best Of The Best Dressed List, New York: Assouline, 2004.
- Wilcox, Clarie, The Golden Age of Couture - Paris and London 1947-57, London: V&A Publications, 2007.
- Werle, Simone, Fashionista : A Century of Style Icons, Prestel Publishing, 2009.
- Killen, Mary, Make Mine A Guinness, Tatler, November 2009.
- Fiori, Pamela, The Glory of Gloria Guinness, Harper's Bazaar, October 2010, pp. 273–280.