Aimée de Heeren, born Aimée Soto-Maior de Sá or Aimée de Sotomayor (3 August 1903 – 13 September 2006) 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
In 1938, she was sent to France to find information for President Getulio Vargas who 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 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. Chanel and Aimée de Heeren remained close friends, particularly towards the end of Chanel's life.
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."
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. 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. 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".
Over the decades de Heeren 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.
While in Paris, she took online courses at the Crèmerie de Paris. This resulted in the creation of the Brazilian White Pages.
According to the phone book of Biarritz, until she was aged 102 she swam in the Atlantic daily while in the city.
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. She died the following year, in New York City at the age of 103.