Norman David Levinson (April 20, 1900 – October 25, 1972) known professionally as Norman Norell, was an American fashion designer famed for his elegant gowns, suits, and tailored silhouettes. His designs for the Traina-Norell and Norell fashion houses became famous for their detailing, simple, timeless designs, and tailored construction. By the mid-twentieth century Norell dominated the American fashion industry and in 1968 he became the first American fashion designer to launch his own brand of perfume.
Born in Noblesville, Indiana, Norell arrived in New York City in 1919, studied fashion illustration and fashion design at Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute, and began his career designing costumes for silent-film stars. Before partnering with Anthony Traina to form the Train-Norell fashion house in 1941, Norell spent twelve years with Hattie Carnegie as a designer for her custom-order house. In the 1960s Norell became the sole owner of his own fashion house on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Norell amassed numerous private clients, including Hollywood stars and entertainers, wealthy socialites, and the wives of politicians and industrialists. On occasion, Norell created fashion designs for Hollywood films. Norell considered his greatest contribution to fashion was the inclusion of simple, no-neckline dresses.
Norell was the first recipient of the American Fashion Critics' Award, later known as the Coty Award, the first designer inducted into the fashion industry critics' Hall of Fame, and a recipient of an International Fashion Award from the United Kingdom's Sunday Times. He is also among the first American fashion designers to be honored with a bronze plaque along New York City’s Seventh Avenue. Norell was a founder of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and a member of the Parsons School of Design's board of trustees, as well as a critic and teacher in the fashion design department at Parsons and a mentor to younger designers. The Pratt Institute awarded Norell an honorary fine arts degree. Norell continued to design fashions until his death in New York City in 1972.
Norman David Levinson was born on April 20, 1900, in Noblesville, Indiana. He was the second son of Nettie and Harry Levinson. Norman's only sibling was an older brother named Frank. The family resided in the east side of a double home at 840 Cherry Street in Noblesville. His father, a haberdasher, ran a men's clothing store in Noblesville, but Norman later credited his mother with introducing him to fashion. Around 1905 Norman's father opened a men's hat store on Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the family moved to Indianapolis about a year later.
Frail and frequently ill in his early childhood, Norman recuperated in bed, amusing himself by drawing. Although his brother worked in the family's store from a young age and later managed the family's retail business, Norman preferred drawing and attending the theater. Because Norman's father advertised his hat shop in theater playbills, the family received free passes to attend the shows. Norman saw three or four theater performances a week and entertained himself by sketching costumes and theater sets. He attended a military school in Kentucky, and after a brief and miserable period at the school, Norman withdrew and returned to Indianapolis, but he had no interest in joining the family's clothing business.
In 1919, at the age of nineteen, Norman traveled to New York City to study fashion illustration at Parsons School of Design. A year later he enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to study fashion design. Around the same time, Norman adopted his professional surname of Norell. During the 1940s Norell told reporters he came up with the surname by using the first three letters of his first name, "NOR", followed by the letter "L" for Levinson and another "L" for appearance. Norman never legally changed his surname to Norell.
Following completion of his coursework at Pratt, Norell began his fashion career as a costume designer in New York City.
In 1922 Norell joined the Paramount Pictures studios based in Astoria, Queens, New York, where he designed clothes for Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and other stars of silent-film stars. Norell designed costumes for Zaza (1923) starring Swanson and was one of three costume designers for A Sainted Devil (1924) starring Valentino.
Norell lost his job when the film industry relocated to California. He remained in New York and found work as a costume designer for the Broadway theater. Norell made costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies, as well as for the Brooks Costume Company. Beginning in 1924 Norell spent three and a half years with Charles Armour, a wholesale dress manufacturer, learning how to make real clothes for women instead of crafting theatrical costumes.
In 1928 Hattie Carnegie, a major name in the U.S. fashion industry at the time, hired Norell as a designer for her custom-order house. After Norell joined the firm Carnegie introduced her first line of high-quality, high-priced, ready-to-wear fashions that he had designed. The Carnegie-Norell duo also created fashions for celebrities and film stars such as Joan Crawford and Constance Bennett. Novell remained with Carnegie for twelve years. They split in 1941 after a disagreement about the gowns he had designed for Gertrude Lawrence, the star of the Broadway musical, Lady in the Dark.
When Norell left Carnegie's fashion house in 1941, he was not yet in the financial position to open his own fashion-design business, but he had earned a strong reputation for his designs within the industry. Anthony Traina, a wholesale clothing manufacturer, offered Norell a partnership. Traina would look after the business while Norell designed the fashions. Traina offered Norell a larger salary if Norell's name did not appear on the label, a smaller salary if it did. Norell chose the lower salary/better visibility option. Traina-Norell launched its first collection in 1941.
Norell’s fashions for the Traina-Norell label became famous for their detailing, simplicity, timeless design, and high-quality construction. According to The New York Times, the Traina-Norell collection became a "status symbol among American women." Norell's designs for a chemise, a sequin-covered sheath dress, and a fur-trimmed trench coat helped make the Traina-Norell label "a fashion byword," whose prestige equaled the Parisian labels.
During the World War II-era Norman Norell became the leading New York fashion designer. He was the first among the New York designers to introduce a full collection of fashions, rather than an assortment of separate pieces. Norell's wool jersey dresses became staples of the Traina-Norell label, as did his sailor-suit-inspired dresses and spangle-covered "mermaid" gowns (a skin-tight, floor-length evening gown).
In 1943, Norell became the first recipient of the American Fashion Critics' Award, later known as the Coty Fashion Award. That same year he accepted a teaching position in the fashion design department at New York's Parsons School of Design.
Norell contributed to the war effort as a volunteer on the weekends in New York's hospitals to help care for wounded soldiers.
Although Norell made annual trips to Paris after World War II to purchase fabric and traveled across the United States to show and sell his work, he remained a New York City resident for the rest of his life. Norell turned down an offer from Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, to move to Hollywood and create costume designs for the film studio.
During the 1950s Norell's biannual shows of his collection at his firm's New York City showroom at 550 Seventh Avenue were lavish, black tie events. Norell received his second Coty Award in 1951 and became the first winner of the fashion industry critics' Hall of Fame award in 1956, the same year Norell designed Marilyn Monroe's wedding dress for her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller.
After Traina retired in 1960 Norell and several silent partners established the Norell fashion house. Norell retained ownership of fifty-one percent of the company's stock. The firm's main office and showroom were on Seventh Avenue; its factory in lower Manhattan employed 150 workers. Norell held his first solo fashion show in June 1960. In the early 1960s Norell had become "the label of choice for the fashionable and the famous."
Norell amassed numerous private clients, including Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Carol Channing, Dinah Shore, and Lena Horne. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lady Bird Johnson, Babe Paley, and Lyn Revson, the wife of Revlon cosmetics founder Charles Revson, were also among his private clients.
On occasion, Norell created designs for Hollywood films, including three ensembles for Doris Day that appeared in That Touch of Mink (1962) and fashions for the film Sex and the Single Girl (1964).
In 1968 Norell became the first American fashion designer to launch his own brand of perfume, marketed by Revlon. Norell took an active role in making selections for the composition of the new fragrance, which he described as "floral with green overtones." The perfume sold at $50 an ounce when it was successfully introduced in 1968, earning Norell an estimated $1 million. The venture provided him with sufficient funds to buy out his silent partners and become the sole owner of the Norell fashion house. Norell's dominance of the American fashion industry began to decline in the late 1960s as other designers, such as Bill Blass and Halston, rose to prominence, but Norell was widely considered "the dean of the fashion industry" in the United States.
Known throughout his career for his calm demeanor and easy-going manner, Norell lived a quiet, private life in New York City. He also maintained a lifelong relationship with his Indiana family, returning to Indiana for Christmas holidays and annual summer vacations for many years.
Norell, a chain smoker, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent successful surgery on his vocal cords in 1962. His voice remained a hoarse whisper for the remainder of his life. Norell underwent a hernia operation in 1969. Newspapers also reported that he suffered from migraine headaches and diverticulitis.
Throughout his life, Norell maintained a close relationship with Parsons School of Design . Over the years Norell became known for making impromptu visits to the school to assist Parsons students with their projects. For more than twenty years he served as a critic in Parsons' fashion department, where he was once been a student. Norell also mentored younger designers such as Bill Blass, another fashion designer from Indiana, and Stephen Sprouse.
A retrospective show presented by the Parsons School of Design to honor Norell's fifty years in the fashion industry was scheduled to open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on October 16, 1972.
But Norell suffered a stroke on October 15, 1972, he was rushed to New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. Norell never regained consciousness and died on October 25, 1972, at the age of seventy-two.
The retrospective show went on as planned.
Norman Norell's funeral service was held at the Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan. Norell's remains are interred at Crownland Cemetery, Noblesville, Indiana, along with other members of the Levinson family.
Norell's career in the fashion industry spanned five decades, beginning in 1922, when he worked as a costume designer for Paramount Pictures in Astoria, Queens, until his death in 1972, when he was the sole owner of his own fashion house on New York City's Seventh Avenue. Over the years Norell's clients included Hollywood film stars and entertainers, as well as socialites and the wives of politicians and industrialists. Called the "dean of American fashion designers," Norell was the first recipient of the first fashion industry critics’ Coty Award. From the early 1940s through the 1960s his designs helped make the New York's fashion houses with which he was associated rivals to Parisian firms.
The New York Times noted that Norell's designs were known for their "glamour, timelessness and high quality construction." Fashion critics also praised Norell for his keen eye for detail, accuracy in judging proper proportion, effective use of color, and insistence on high-quality workmanship. Norell's lavish, avant-garde fashion shows showcased his designs that were tailored for the American woman's active lifestyle. He was well known for his high quality, tailored fashions. He was especially known for his sailor-inspired clothes, chemise dresses, wool jersey dresses, and Empire-line dresses, as well as culottes and sequin-covered, "mermaid" evening gowns and sheath dresses. In the late 1960s, during the height of his popularity, Norell's "mermaid" gowns sold for $3,000 to $4,000, "considered the most expensive dresses in America" at that time. To make sure that imitations of his design for culottes would be constructed correctly, Norell published the specifications in Women's Wear Daily. Norell believed that his greatest contribution to fashion was the inclusion of simple, no-neckline dresses.
Beginning in 2000 the City of New York placed bronze plaques honoring American designers along Seventh Avenue and Norell was among the first to be honored.
Norell: Master of American FashionAuthor Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chapelle, Foreword by Ralph Rucci, Afterword by Kenneth PoolThe first book dedicated to the career and creations of esteemed fashion designer Norman Norell, the man hailed as the “Dean of American Fashion” by the New York Times.
Norman Norell (1900–1972)—the first American designer to employ couture techniques, refined workmanship, and luxurious fabrics—made dresses, coats, and suits that critics deemed “the equal of Paris,” earning him the sobriquet “the American Balenciaga” and forever changing perceptions about New York’s Seventh Avenue garment industry.
Norell showed the world that American design could climb to great heights by producing collection after collection that was both elegant and practical. He singlehandedly shaped the character of the ready-to-wear industry and served as a role model to younger generations of American designers. Early jobs included creating costumes for film and stage and outfits for the stars themselves, as well as working for fashion entrepreneur Hattie Carnegie. Norell brought to the world a lean sophistication and American glamour in his daytime suits, jersey separates, swing coats, and his shimmering sequined “mermaid” dresses. Clients included Lauren Bacall, Babe Paley, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, Marilyn Monroe, and Lady Bird Johnson. Norell was the first thoroughly modern American designer—and his dresses are still prized by stylish women today.
About The AuthorJeffrey Banks is a Coty Award–winning designer of men’s and women’s apparel. Doria de La Chapelle is a freelance writer. She has written on fashion, beauty, and style for Mademoiselle magazine and other publications. Ralph Rucci is a fashion designer and artist. Stan Herman is a clothing designer and former CFDA president. Kenneth Pool is a bridal-dress designer and Norell collector.
Natalie Portman (born June 9, 1981) is an Israeli-born American actress. With an extensive career in film since her teenage years, she has starred in various blockbusters and independent films, for which she has received multiple accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and two Golden Globe Awards.
Portman began her acting career at age twelve, when she starred as the young protégée of a hitman in the action drama film Léon: The Professional (1994). While in high school, she made her Broadway debut in a 1998 production of The Diary of a Young Girl and gained international recognition for starring as Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). From 1999 to 2003, Portman attended Harvard University for a bachelor's degree in psychology, while continuing to act in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002, 2005) and in The Public Theater's 2001 revival of Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull. In 2004, Portman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won a Golden Globe Award for playing a mysterious stripper in the romantic drama Closer.
Portman's career progressed with her starring roles as Evey Hammond in V for Vendetta (2005), Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), and a troubled ballerina in the psychological horror film Black Swan (2010), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She went on to star in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached (2011) and featured as Jane Foster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films Thor (2011), and Thor: The Dark World (2013), which established her among the world's highest-paid actresses. She has since portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy in the biopic Jackie (2016), earning her third Academy Award nomination.
Portman's directorial ventures include the short film Eve (2008) and the biographical drama A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015). She is vocal about the politics of America and Israel, and is an advocate for animal rights and environmental causes. She is married to dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has two children.
Natalie Herschlag was born on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, to parents of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Her native language is Hebrew. She is the only child of Shelley (née Stevens), an American homemaker who works as Portman's agent, and Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born gynecologist. Her maternal grandparents were American Jews, whereas her paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants to Israel.
Portman and her family first lived in Washington, D.C., but relocated to Connecticut in 1988 and then moved to Long Island in 1990 where she attended a Jewish elementary school, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Nassau County. She studied ballet and modern dance at the American Theater Dance Workshop, and regularly attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. Describing her early life, Portman has said that she was "different from the other kids. I was more ambitious. I knew what I liked and what I wanted, and I worked very hard. I was a very serious kid."
When Portman was ten years old, a Revlon agent spotted her at a pizza restaurant and asked her to become a child model. She turned down the offer but used the opportunity to get an acting agent. She auditioned for the 1992 off-Broadway Ruthless!, a musical about a girl who is prepared to commit murder to get the lead in a school play. Portman and Britney Spears were chosen as the understudies for star Laura Bell Bundy.
Six months after Ruthless! ended, Portman auditioned for and secured a leading role in Luc Besson's action drama Léon: The Professional (1994). To protect her privacy, she adopted her paternal grandmother's maiden name, Portman, as her stage name. She played Mathilda, an orphan child who befriends a middle-aged hitman (played by Jean Reno). Her parents were reluctant to let her do the part due to the explicit sexual and violent nature of the script, but agreed after Besson took out the nudity and killings committed by Portman's character.
After filming The Professional, Portman went back to school. She also enrolled at the Stagedoor Manor performing arts camp, where she played Anne Shirley in a staging of Anne of Green Gables.
In 1996, Portman had brief roles in Woody Allen's musical Everyone Says I Love You and Tim Burton's comic science fiction film Mars Attacks!.
Portman was cast opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996), but she dropped out during rehearsals when studio executives found her too young for the role. She was also offered Adrian Lyne's Lolita, based on the novel of the same name, but she turned down the part due to its excessive sexual content.
Portman instead signed on to star as Anne Frank in a Broadway adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, which was staged at the Music Box Theatre from December 1997 to May 1998. She found a connection with Frank's story, given her own family's history with the Holocaust.
Natalie Portman began filming the part of Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy in 1997, which marked her first big-budget production. She worked closely with the director George Lucas on her character's accent and mannerisms, and watched the films of Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, and Katharine Hepburn to draw inspiration from their voice and stature.
The first film of the series, Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, when she was in her final year of high school. She did not attend the film's premiere so she could study for her high school final exams. The film earned $924 million worldwide, the second highest-grossing film of all time to that point, and it established Portman as a global star.
Portman graduated from Syosset High School in 1999.
Following production on The Phantom Menace, Portman played the leading role in the coming-of-age film Anywhere but Here (1999) for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination for it.
In 2000 she began attending Harvard University to pursue her bachelor's degree in psychology, where she also studied advanced Hebrew literature, neurobiology, thus significantly reducing her acting roles over the next few years. When asked about balancing her career and education, she said, "I don't care if [college] ruins my career. I'd rather be smart than a movie star."
In the summer of 2001, she returned to Broadway to perform Chekhov's drama The Seagull, which was directed by Mike Nichols and co-starred Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The following year, she reprised her role of Amidala in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, which she had filmed in Sydney and London during her summer break of 2000. She was excited by the opportunity to play a confident young woman who did not depend on the male lead. Portman graduated from Harvard in 2003 and her sole screen appearance that year was in the brief part of a young mother in the war film Cold Mountain.
Next year she played a mysterious stripper in Closer, a drama directed by Mike Nichols based on the play of the same name, and co-starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and Clive Owen. The actress agreed to her first sexually explicit adult role, after turning down such projects in the past, saying that it reflected her own maturity as a person. Closer grossed over $115 million against a $27 million budget, and Portman won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in addition to receiving an Academy Award nomination in the same category.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, the final installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, was Portman's first film release of 2005. It earned over $848 million to rank as the second-highest-grossing film of the year.
In late 2006, she starred in Miloš Forman's Goya's Ghosts, about the painter Francisco Goya. Forman cast her in the film after finding a resemblance between her and Goya's portrait The Milkmaid of Bordeaux. She insisted on using a body-double for her nude scenes after discovering on set that she had to perform them when they were not originally in the script.
Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson starred as rival sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn, respectively, in the period film The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). She was excited by the opportunity to work opposite another actress her age, bemoaning that such casting was rare in film. The film had modest box-office earnings.
She served as a jury member of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and also launched her own production company, named handsomecharlie films, after her late dog. Portman's directorial debut, the short film Eve, opened the short-film screenings at the 65th Venice International Film Festival. It is about a young woman who goes to her grandmother's romantic date, and Portman drew inspiration for the older character (played by Lauren Bacall) from her own grandmother.
In 2009, Portman played a ballerina overwhelmed with the prospect of performing Swan Lake in Darren Aronofsky's psychological horror film Black Swan. She was trained by the professional ballerina Mary Helen Bowers, and in preparation, she trained for five to eight hours daily for six months and lost 20 pounds (9 kg). Her performance was acclaimed.
Black Swan emerged as a sleeper hit, grossing over $329 million worldwide against a $13 million budget, and earned Portman several prizes including the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In 2010, Portman signed on with Dior and appeared in several of the company's advertising campaigns. Portman is the face of one of the company's fragrances, Miss Dior, inspired by Catherine Dior. She has starred in campaign videos for the fragrance, and promoted a new version of the fragrance, Rose N'Roses, in 2021.
Portman next served as an executive producer for No Strings Attached (2011), a romantic comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and her as a young couple in a casual sex relationship. She described the experience of making it as a "palate cleanser" from the intensity of her Black Swan job. It received unfavorable reviews but was a commercial success.
In 2012, Natalie Portman topped Forbes' listing of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. Forbes featured her in their Celebrity 100 listing of 2014, and estimated her income from the previous year to be $13 million.
Portman portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy in the biopic Jackie (2016), about Kennedy's life immediately after the 1963 assassination of her husband. She was initially intimidated to take on the part of a well-known public figure, and eventually researched Kennedy extensively by watching videos of her, reading books, and listening to audiotapes of her interviews. She also worked with a dialect coach to adapt Kennedy's unique speaking style.
She won the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Natalie Portman met French danseur and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, while working together on the set of Black Swan. The couple began dating in 2009 and wed in a Jewish ceremony held in Big Sur, California on August 4, 2012. They have two children, son Aleph (born 2011) and daughter Amalia (born 2017). The family lived in Paris for a time, after Millepied accepted the position of director of dance with the Paris Opera Ballet, and Portman expressed a desire to become a French citizen. They currently reside in Los Angeles.
In January 2014, her husband Millepied said he was in the process of converting to Judaism.
Natividad Abascal y Romero-Toro (born 2 April 1943, in Seville, Spain), more commonly known as Naty Abascal (formerly, the Duchess of Feria), is a Spanish socialite and former fashion model. She has been a member of the International Best Dressed List since 1984.
Natividad Abascal Romero-Toro (Sevilla, 1 de abril de 1943), más conocida como Naty Abascal o Nati Abascal, es una modelo de alta costura española, musa de diseñadores como Elio Berhanyer,Valentino y Óscar de la Renta y exduquesa de Feria.
Naty Abascal's modeling career started when Spanish fashion designer Elio Berhanyer asked both her and her twin sister Ana Maria to model some of his designs at the International Exhibition in New York in 1964. The couple caught Richard Avedon's eye and he decided to photograph them in Ibiza later in 1964 for his 'The Iberians (The Blaze in Spain)' editorial in Harper's Bazaar.
By 1965 Abascal was on the cover of this publication in another photograph signed by Avedon. After this, her modeling career took off and she settled in New York. Among others, she worked for Oscar de la Renta from his very early days(they met while he was still working for Elizabeth Arden) and became great friends, a friendship that lasted until his death.
Designer Valentino Garavani met Abascal in 1968 at a party when she was 25 years old. By then, she had already been working as a model in New York for at least 3 years and had a full-time contract with Ford model agency; years later she would also be employed by Wilhelmina model agency. Valentino brought her to the island of Capri for modeling shoots and, ever since, they've remained close friends.
In 1971 Abascal married Murray Livingstone Smith, a Vice-President of an advertising agency, although this has been disputed. They met at Cartier in NYC, and a few months later Smith sent a red Ferrari to her house with a note saying "Marry me". They did, but split up in 1975.
In 1971 she also had a small role in Woody Allen's 1971 film Bananas as the guerrilla girl Yolanda. This same year she posed naked for Playboy magazine and was also the cover of Andy Warhol's magazine Interview.
In 1974 she made a commercial for Alka-Seltzer with Salvador Dalí which was seen as "too aggressive" by certain viewers. Dalí was shown pretending to stab Naty with some paint brushes, as he painted her body. The commercial was not particularly successful and was taken back from public view quite quickly.
Towards the end of 1975 she returned to her home in Seville, Spain. She reunited with an ex-boyfriend from her teenage years, Rafael Medina y Fernandez de Cordoba, Duke of Feria and Marquis of Villalba. They married in July 1977 and had two sons: Rafael, born on 25 September 1978, who is the present Duke of Feria, and Luis, born on 30 August 1980.
At the beginning of the 1980s, and well after having left the fashion world, she jumped again on the catwalks for her friend Carolina Herrera's first collection. It would be her last catwalk show. In 1982, several years after having left the fashion world, Norman Parkinson decided to portray her in the Caribbean for Town and Country magazine. In 1984 she presented Oscar de la Renta's collection to the Spanish media and in 1987 Lord Snowdon also photographed her in Seville. Naty and Rafael Medina split up in 1989 and divorced in unfriendly terms.
Abascal is known as one of Valentino Garavani's Spanish muses and she's also closely connected to Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, among other designers. She still works regularly as a stylist for Hola! magazine as well as many other random projects.
Nieta del V marqués de Romero-Toro, título pontificio, nació en una familia de 12 hermanos. Tiene una hermana gemela, Ana María. Su padre, Domingo Abascal y Fernández, era un rico abogado, dueño de extensos olivares y un próspero negocio de aceitunas, y su madre, María Natividad Romero-Toro y Noriega, fue la primera mujer que abrió una boutique en Sevilla.
Cuando contaba con 21 años, el modisto Elio Berhanyer les propuso a su hermana gemela Ana María y a ella que presentaran su colección en Nueva York durante la Exposición Mundial de 1964. Allí conocieron a Richard Avedon quien, a su regreso a España, les ofreció posar para un reportaje de 15 páginas en la revista de moda Harpers Bazaar que se publicaría en enero de 1965. Meses después, Avedon volvió a fotografiarla (esta vez a Naty sola) para la portada de la misma revista.
A partir de entonces, comenzó a subir su cotización como modelo y se instaló en Nueva York. Elieen Ford, directora de la agencia de modelos más importante de Estados Unidos, la contrató y Nati Abascal comenzó a pasar modelos de los más famosos modistos. Presentó pieles de Revillon y Maximilliam y posó en los platós con joyas de Cartier o Bulgari. Está considerada la musa de los modistos Óscar de la Renta y Valentino. En 1970 se casó con el escocés Murray Livingstone Smith, del que se divorciaría cinco años más tarde.
Woody Allen la contrató en 1971 para su película Bananas, en la que interpretó el papel de una guerrillera latinoamericana. También realizó un spot publicitario para televisión en el que aparecía pintada por Salvador Dalí, y posó desnuda para el número de julio de 1971 de la revista Playboy.
En 1975, tras su divorcio, decidió regresar a Sevilla, donde, el 14 de julio de 1977, contrajo matrimonio con Rafael Medina y Fernández de Córdoba, duque de Feria, marqués de Villalba y segundo hijo de los duques de Medinaceli, al que conocía desde la infancia. La ceremonia se celebró en la onubense ermita de El Rocío. A partir de entonces se alejó de las pasarelas. De su matrimonio con el duque de Feria nacieron dos hijos: Rafael Medina (nacido el 25 de septiembre de 1978) y Luis Medina(nacido el 31 de agosto de 1980).
En la década de los ochenta colaboró como estilista y seleccionando grandes casas en España para la revista "House and Garden", regresando a su trabajo de modelo por todo el mundo a raíz de su separación.
Tras el verano de 1988 empezaron a correr rumores sobre la posible relación sentimental entre Nati Abascal y Ramón Mendoza, presidente del Real Madrid. En octubre de ese año se separó de su marido. Su relación con el presidente del club madrileño duró hasta aproximadamente finales de 1989.
El 13 de febrero de 1989 se dictó sentencia en el juicio de separación de los duques de Feria. En ésta, además de establecerse las pensiones correspondientes, se concedió la patria potestad de los hijos a Nati Abascal, y se recogía la renuncia expresa de ella al uso de los títulos que había obtenido por matrimonio: Excelentísima señora doña Natividad Abascal Romero-Toro, duquesa de Feria y marquesa de Villalba (1977-1989).
Meses después, en junio de 1989, una posterior sentencia le concedía la patria potestad al aristócrata. Los trámites para la nulidad del matrimonio los inició el duque de Feria en enero de 1992.
Nati Abascal está considerada como una de las mujeres más elegantes del mundo. Entre los galardones que ha recibido por ello se encuentran: en 1987 el Óscar a la elegancia de Nueva York de 1986, lo que le permitió ser incluida en el libro "Hall of Fame", en septiembre de 1988 finalista en el premio mundial Elegance Award, y en noviembre de 1993 la Asociación de Críticos norteamericanos la eligió como la mujer mejor vestida del mundo, sucediendo a la princesa Carolina de Mónaco. Además, ha conseguido en cuatro ocasiones el premio a la mujer más elegante de España (1986, 1987, 1988 y 1992), merced a una encuesta realizada por la revista ¡Hola! entre diseñadores de moda y lectores.
Actualmente trabaja colaborando en los estilismos y realizaciones de reportajes para la revista ¡Hola! y presta su imagen para conocidas marcas de joyas.