Agustina del Carmen Otero Iglesias (4 November 1868 – 10 April 1965), better known as Carolina Otero or La Belle Otero, was a Spanish actress, dancer and courtesan. She had a reputation for great beauty and was famous for her numerous lovers.
Agustina Carolina del Carmen Otero Iglesias, más conocida como Carolina Otero o La Bella Otero (Valga, 4 de noviembre de 1868-Niza, 12 de abril de 1965), fue una bailarina, cantante, actriz y cortesana española afincada en Francia y uno de los personajes más destacados de la Belle Époque francesa en los círculos artísticos y la vida galante de París.
Agustina del Carmen Otero Iglesias was born in Valga (Pontevedra), Galicia, Spain, daughter of a Spanish single mother, Carmen Otero Iglesias (1844–1903), and a Greek army officer, named Carasson. Her family was impoverished, and as a child she moved to Santiago de Compostela working as a maid. At ten she was raped, and at fourteen she left home with her boyfriend and dancing partner, Paco, and began working as a singer/dancer in Lisbon.
In 1888 Otero found a sponsor named Ernest Jurgens in Barcelona who moved with her to Marseilles in order to promote her dancing career in France. She soon left him and created the character of La Belle Otero, portraying herself as an Andalusian gypsy. She was pretty, confident, intelligent, with an attractive figure. It was once said of her that her extraordinarily dark black eyes were so captivating that they were "of such intensity that it was impossible not to be detained before them". She wound up as the star of Folies Bèrgere productions in Paris.One of her most famous costumes featured her voluptuous bosom partially covered with glued-on precious gems, and the twin cupolas of the Carlton Hotel built in 1912 in Cannes are popularly said to have been modeled upon her breasts.
Within a short number of years, La Bella Otero was said to be the most sought-after woman in Europe. She was serving, by this time, as a courtesan to wealthy and powerful men of the day, and she chose her lovers carefully. She associated herself with Kaiser Wilhelm II, Prince Albert I of Monaco, King Edward VII, Kings of Serbia, and Kings of Spain as well as Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas, the Duke of Westminster and writer Gabriele D'Annunzio. Her love affairs made her notorious, and the envy of many other notable female personalities of the day. Six men reportedly committed suicide after their love affairs with Otero ended, although this has never been substantiated beyond a doubt. It is a fact, however, that two men did fight a duel over her.
In August 1898, in St-Petersburg, the French film operator Félix Mesguich (an employee of the Lumière company) shot a one-minute reel of Otero performing the famous "Valse Brillante." The screening of the film at the Aquarium music-hall provoked such a scandal (because an officer of the Tsar's army appeared in this frivolous scene) that Mesguich was expelled from Russia.
La Bella Otero retired after World War I, purchasing a mansion and property at a cost of the equivalent of US$15 million. She had accumulated a massive fortune over the years, about US$25 million, but she gambled much of it away over the remainder of her lifetime, enjoying a lavish lifestyle, and visiting the casinos of Monte Carlo often. She lived out her life in a more and more pronounced state of poverty until she died of a heart attack in 1965 in her one-room apartment at the Hotel Novelty in Nice, France.
Of her heyday and career, Otero once said, "Women have one mission in life: to be beautiful. When one gets old, one must learn how to break mirrors. I am very gently expecting to die."
Hija de una madre soltera y muy pobre (Carmen Otero Iglesias, 1844-1903) y de un oficial de la armada griega llamado Carasson, apenas tuvo acceso a una educación académica. Tuvo cinco hermanos: Gumersindo, Valentín, Adolfo y Francisco, y una hermana gemela, Francisca. En julio de 1879, a los diez años, fue violada por Venancio Romero "Conainas", zapatero del pueblo, a causa de lo cual quedó estéril y huyó de casa unos meses después para no volver nunca más a su pueblo natal, Valga. Tras la fuga decidió usar su segundo nombre: Carolina, en lugar del primero Agustina.
A los trece años conoció a su primer amante, Paco, un joven tres años mayor que ella, quien le enseñó a bailar flamenco, a cantar y a ejercer de comediante en los salones de cantantes. Sin embargo, también fue quien la indujo a la prostitución. Cuando ella enfermó, el médico denuncia la situación de la entonces menor de edad y la llevan a casa, pero su madre la rechaza, tras lo que se une a Paco en Lisboa.
Trabajó en una compañía de cómicos ambulantes portugueses. Al dejar la compañía se vio obligada a ejercer oficios muy humildes para salir adelante, como trabajar de criada doméstica, bailar en locales de la más diversa índole, e incluso llegar a ejercer la prostitución.
En 1888 conoció en Barcelona a un banquero llamado Ernest Jurgens que la quiso promocionar como bailarina por Francia y la llevó a Marsella, aunque enseguida empezó a promocionarse a sí misma hasta llegar a ser una bailarina conocida en toda Francia como La Bella Otero. En la promoción enfatizaba su origen español (muy exótico en Francia por entonces) y se presentaba artísticamente como andaluza y de origen gitano. La construcción del personaje artístico de Otero está tan llena de mitos que incluso han perdurado hasta nuestros días, habiendo biógrafos que sitúan su nacimiento en Cádiz, hija de una gitana, tal y como ella afirmaba en su autobiografía.
Realizó giras por todo el mundo como bailarina exótica y actriz, consiguiendo fama internacional. Se sabe que actuó en Nueva York en 1890, además de visitar otros países como Argentina, Cuba y Rusia, coincidiendo en este último con Rasputín. Otero actuó durante muchos años en París en el Folies Bergère, donde era la estrella y en el Cirque d'été, convirtiéndose en una de las primeras artistas españolas conocida internacionalmente.
Otero no era una bailarina profesional y su arte era más instintivo que técnico. Sus danzas eran una mezcla de estilos flamenco, fandangos o danzas exóticas. También era una cantante competente y tenía calidad como actriz. Representó Carmen de Bizet y piezas teatrales como Nuit de Nöel.
A pesar de sus éxitos profesionales, Otero había conseguido ascender en el mundo artístico prostituyéndose y haciéndose amante de hombres influyentes. No era una práctica extraña que las artistas ejercieran de cortesanas para aumentar sus ingresos. En la Belle Époque era habitual y los hombres que podían pagar las astronómicas sumas que cobraban estas cortesanas conseguían prestigio. Otero era una de las más famosas y cotizadas de la alta sociedad parisina. Fue amante de Guillermo II de Alemania, Nicolás II de Rusia, Leopoldo II de Bélgica, Alfonso XIII de España, Eduardo VII del Reino Unido y Aristide Briand —con quien tuvo una relación entrañable hasta la muerte del político—, entre otros. Otero llegó a reunir una fabulosa fortuna que, debido a la ludopatía que padecía, fue dilapidando en los casinos de Montecarlo y Niza.
Retirada de los escenarios en 1910, se estableció en Niza, Francia, donde vivió hasta su muerte en 1965 totalmente arruinada y sola. Vivía de una pensión que le pasaba el Casino de Montecarlo en agradecimiento por los millones de francos que en él dejara. Nunca se casó.
Falleció de un infarto fulminante en su humilde departamento el 12 de abril de 1965, con noventa y seis años. A su entierro solo asistieron varios crupieres y el gerente del Casino de Montecarlo para despedirla.
De su vida se han escrito varias biografías y se han hecho películas y series para la televisión. Debido a que Otero inventó parte de su pasado para ocultar hechos como su violación o sus orígenes extremadamente humildes, muchas biografías, películas u otros trabajos en torno a su persona tienen datos inexactos y hechos que nunca sucedieron de verdad.
Carmen Dell'Orefice (born June 3, 1931) is an American supermodel and actress. She is known within the fashion industry for being the world's oldest working model as of the Spring/Summer 2012 season. She was on the cover of Vogue at the age of 15 and has been modeling ever since. Her daily motto is to enjoy herself, at no-one else's expense
Carmen Dell'Orefice was born in New York City to parents of Italian and Hungarian descent. Her parents had an unstable relationship characterized by frequent break ups and reconciliations. Dell'Orefice lived in foster homes or with other relatives during her parents' clashes.
At the age of 13, while riding a bus to ballet class, she was approached to model by the wife of photographer Herman Landschoff. Her test photos, taken at Jones Beach, were a "flop" according to Dell'Orefice.
In 1946, her godfather introduced her to Vogue and the 15-year-old signed a modeling contract for $7.50 an hour. She became a favorite model of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld who shot her first Vogue cover in 1946. She appears in the December 15, 1946 issue of US Vogue; New York Vol. 108, Iss. 11, as Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Cinderella along with model Dorian Leigh, actors Ray Bolger and Jose Ferrer.
Dell'Orefice and her mother struggled financially, and her modeling income was not enough to sustain the family. With no telephone, Vogue had to send runners to their apartment to let Dell'Orefice know about modeling jobs. She roller-skated to assignments to save on bus fares. She was so malnourished that famed fashion photographers Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton had to pin back dresses and stuff the curves with tissue.
Dell'Orefice and her mother were accomplished seamstresses and made extra money making clothes. One of their customers was Dorian Leigh. Dell'Orefice later became best friends with Leigh's younger sister, model Suzy Parker. Together they were bridesmaids at Leigh's second wedding to Roger W. Mehle in 1948.
In 1947, Dell'Orefice's rate was raised to $10–$25 per hour. She appeared on the October 1947 cover of Vogue at age 16, one of the youngest Vogue cover models. She was also on Vogue's November 1948 cover. She worked with the most famous fashion photographers of the era, including Irving Penn, Gleb Derujinsky, Francesco Scavullo, Norman Parkinson, and Richard Avedon. Dell'Orefice was photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Harper's Bazaar in 1960. The image, titled Carmen Las Meninas has been collected internationally. Mark Shaw photographed her for a classic Vanity Fair lingerie campaign, in which Dell'Orefice obscures her face with her hand. She was painter Salvador Dalí's muse.
Despite her early successes, modeling agent Eileen Ford declined to represent her and Vogue lost interest in her. Her thin frame required medical attention. She joined the Ford Modelling Agency in 1953.
Dell'Orefice met and married Bill Miles in the early 1950s. Miles exploited his wife financially, by picking up his wife's modeling agency checks, allowing her only $50 allowance from her earnings. They had a daughter, Laura, and divorced soon after. In 1958, she met photographer Richard Heimann and married him six months later in 1959. She decided to retire, after which he left her. Though their marriage didn't work out, it had nothing to do with her "retirement". Carmen and Richard divorced in 1960 but remained close friends for the next 53 years, until his death in 2013. Her third marriage was to a young architect, Richard Kaplan, in the mid-1960s. The marriage lasted eleven years.
After almost 20 years, Dell'Orefice returned to modeling in 1978. In 1984 she appeared on the cover of Quarante, a newsstand quarterly publication subtitled, "For the woman of style and substance".
In the late 1980s, Dell'Orefice was engaged to television talk-show host David Susskind. He died before they were married.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Dell'Orefice lost most of her money in the stock market. She was forced to auction off her famous modeling photographs from the 1940s to the 1980s through Sotheby's.
In 1993, a neighbor introduced her to Norman F. Levy, who was Bernard Madoff's best friend. Levy was her boyfriend for several years.
In 1994, with what little money she had left, and with money from boyfriend Norman Levy, she invested with notorious financial fraud Bernie Madoff. For twelve years, Bernie Madoff, his wife Ruth Madoff, Dell'Orefice and Norman Levy were a "foursome", traveling and partying together on lavish yachts.
In the 1990s and 2000s, she modeled for Isaac Mizrahi's clothing line at Target, as well as Cho Cheng and Rolex. Dell'Orefice is featured regularly in their advertising campaigns appearing in Vogue, W and Harper's Bazaar.
Levy died in 2005, at age 93, and Madoff was the executor of his will. Levy had $244 million in assets at the time of his death, according to Dell'Orefice. Madoff's fraudulent investment scheme drew on these funds to lure over 13,500 individuals and charities to his Ponzi scheme. She continued to socialize with the Madoffs after Levy's death.
In December 2008 a 68-year-old friend, who invested her life savings with Madoff, telephoned Dell'Orefice to inform her that she too had been bankrupted by the scheme. Dell'Orefice said, "For the second time in my life, I've lost all of my life savings."
Dell'Orefice decided to work again as a model. Since her return to the industry, Dell'Orefice has appeared in campaigns for Missoni, shot by Giampaolo Sgura; Sephora, shot by Mikael Jansson; Philipp Plein, shot by Steven Klein and H&M, and walked the runway for Anna Sui, Stéphane Rolland, Thierry Mugler and Guo Pei.
On July 19, 2011 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts London, in recognition of her contribution to the fashion industry. The university sponsored a retrospective exhibition curated by illustrator and long-time friend David Downton, featuring Dell'Orefice's Vogue covers, career highlights, and photographs from her personal archives.
In 2015, Dell'Orefice collaborated with David Gandy and Isabeli Fontana in the promotion for the reopening of the department store Palacio de Hierro Polanco. She has also featured on the covers of L'Officiel (Australia, Azerbaijan, Switzerland), Marie Claire Arabia and Harper's Bazaar Thailand.
Claire McCardell (May 24, 1905 – March 22, 1958) was an American fashion designer of ready-to-wear clothing in the twentieth century. She is credited with the creation of American sportswear.
Claire McCardell was the eldest of four children born to Eleanor and Adrian McCardell in Frederick, Maryland. Adrian was a Maryland state senator and president of the Frederick County National Bank. As a child, McCardell earned the nickname "Kick" for her ability to keep the boys from pushing her around.
Fascinated by fashion from a young age, McCardell wanted to move to New York City to study fashion design at age 16. Unwilling to send a teenager so far away, McCardell's father convinced her to enroll in the home economics program at Hood College instead. After two years of study in Maryland, McCardell moved to New York and enrolled in Parsons (then known as the New York School of Fine and Applied Art). In 1927, McCardell went to Paris, continuing her studies at the Parsons branch school at the Place des Vosges. In Paris, McCardell and her classmates were able to purchases samples by couturiers such as Madeleine Vionnet that they took apart in order to study their structure.
McCardell graduated from Parsons with a certificate in costume design in 1923. After graduation, she worked odd jobs sketching at a fashionable dress shop, painting flowers on paper lamp shades, and acting as a fit model for B. Altman. Then she met designer Robert Turk.
Late in 1930, McCardell began working as an assistant designer for Robert Turk. Soon afterward, Turk moved to a larger company, Townley Frocks, and brought McCardell with him. In 1932, Robert Turk drowned in a boating accident and Claire was asked to finish his fall line.
The 27-year-old Claire McCardell, now chief designer of Townley Frocks, soon traveled to Paris for inspiration, as did most American designers. Not interested in copying European high fashion, McCardell searched for inspiration in art and street fashion. During the 1930s, she began to show innovations such as sashes, spaghetti string ties, and the use of menswear details that would become part of her design signature. In 1938, she modernized the dirndl. She also pioneered matching separates.
After the closure of Townley Frocks, Hattie Carnegie hired McCardell to work for her famed dressmaking firm, but her designs were not successful with Carnegie's clients, who were in search of more elaborate merchandise. While working for Hattie Carnegie, McCardell met Diana Vreeland (then at Harper's Bazaar). She would become McCardell's lifelong friend and champion. In 1940, just before leaving Carnegie, McCardell attended her last Parisian fashion show, preferring from then on to avoid any French influence on her clothing.
Townley Frocks reopened in 1940 under new management and McCardell returned to the brand. The company's labels then read, "Claire McCardell Clothes by Townley", making her one of the first American designers to have name recognition.
World War II cut American designers off from European inspiration and limited the availability of some materials. McCardell flourished under these restrictions. Although many designers considered them too basic, McCardell already worked with fabrics such as denim, calico, and wool jersey that were easily available during the war.
In 1941, McCardell produced a line of separates that made nine outfits from five pieces. The pieces included a taffeta skirt, a jersey top, and a jersey jacket.
That same year, she showed her first "Kitchen Dinner Dress". Made of cotton, the "Kitchen Dinner Dress" had a full skirt with an attached apron.
In 1938, Claire McCardell introduced the Monastic Dress, a bias-cut tentlike dress. It had no seamed waist and hung loosely, but with a versatile belt it could be adapted to hug a woman's curves gracefully. Best & Co. exclusively sold the dress for $29.95 and it sold out in a day. The "Monastic Dress" was widely copied and the cost of trying to stop knock-offs drove Townley Frocks out of business.
In 1942, McCardell created her famed "Popover Dress". It was a response to a Harper's Bazaar challenge to create something fashionable one could wear to clean the house and then, wear to a cocktail party. The simple grey dress came with a matching potholder that fit into the dress pocket. The "Popover Dress" sold for $6.95 and more than 75,000 were sold in the first season alone. These dresses became a staple of McCardell collections and over time, she made versions in different lengths and fabrics. The "Popover Dress" received a citation from the American Fashion Critics Association and in 1943, McCardell won a Coty Award.
In 1943, Claire McCardell married the Texas-born architect, Irving Drought Harris, who had two children by an earlier marriage, and established a home base in Manhattan.
In 1944, McCardell popularized the ballet flat when, responding to the shortage of leather, McCardell commissioned Capezio Ballet Makers Inc., an American manufacturer of dance shoes, apparel and accessories to produce a range of ballet flats to match her designs. When the government announced a surplus of weather balloon cotton materials in 1944, McCardell quickly bought them up, using them to design clothes that patriotic American women wore with pride.
Beginning in 1945, McCardell was featured as an "American Look" designer by Lord & Taylor's department store. In 1946, McCardell won the Best Sportswear Designer Award and in 1948 she won the Neiman-Marcus Award.
As McCardell's fame grew, her influence within Townley Frocks also rose. In 1952, she became a partner in the company.
After the war, McCardell worked as a volunteer critic in the fashion design department at Parsons. In 1950, President Harry S. Truman, the first lady Bess Truman, and their daughter Margaret Truman presented McCardell with a Woman of the Year Award from the Women's National Press Club. This was the award McCardell cherished most.
In April 1953, the Frank Perls Gallery in Beverly Hills launched a retrospective exhibition of twenty years of McCardell's garments. The exhibit included the "Monastic Dress", the "Diaper Bathing Suit", Capezio ballet flats, and work-wear-inspired pieces with rivets. In his introduction to the exhibit, retailer Stanley Marcus wrote, "...she is one of the truly creative designers this country has produced... She is to America what Vionnet was to France."
In 1954, she worked on an advisory panel formed by Time Inc. to create a new magazine that would become Sports Illustrated.
A book entitled What Shall I Wear? The What, Where, When, and How Much of Fashion was published in 1957 under McCardell's name.
McCardell’s life and work were cut short by a diagnosis of terminal colon cancer in 1957. With the help of long-time friend and classmate, Mildred Orrick, McCardell completed her final collection from her hospital bed. She checked out of the hospital in order to make the introductions for her final runway show. McCardell died on March 22, 1958 at the age of 52. She is buried in the family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, Maryland.
After her death, McCardell's family decided to close the label. Her brother explained, "It wasn't that difficult [to close the label]. Claire's ideas were always her own."
In 1981, Lord & Taylor re-issued the "Popover Dress" as part of a McCardell retrospective at their Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan. Versions of the "Popover Dress" are held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Museum at F.I.T. Versions of the "Monastic Dress" are held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and LACMA.
In 1990, Life named McCardell one of the 100 most important Americans of the twentieth century. A year later, she was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.
In 1998, forty years after her death, three separate retrospectives of Claire McCardell's work were staged at Metropolitan Museum of Art, F.I.T., and the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.
Fashion designers such as Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali, and Cynthia Rowley all have been influenced by McCardell. Anna Sui's line of spring-summer 1999 was directly inspired by her work. Of McCardell's work Anna Sui said, "What I truly appreciate was her fabric sensibility, even with more constructed fabrics like denim. She made them all look so soft and drapy. The halters she did were so modern. The thing is, you look at some of the things she did, and you can't believe it was the 40s.''
In 2019, the Frederick Art Club launched the Claire McCardell Project to underwrite the creation and installation of a larger-than-life bronze statue of McCardell in her hometown of Frederick, Maryland. The club commissioned award-winning sculptor Sarah Hempel Irani for this monumental task and, thanks to community support, reached its fundraising goal in less than two years. In October 2021, the statue will be placed on a granite pedestal in an elegant garden setting in Frederick’s Carroll Creek Park.
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