In a poetic homage to the elegant Countess Mona Bismarck, the Mona Bismarck American Center for art & culture in conjunction with the legendary designer Hubert de Givenchy designed an intimate exhibition to celebrate his beloved friend. Featuring beautiful Balenciaga gowns that belonged to Mona, and a glorious selection of Cecil Beaton’s favorite photographs of the “best dressed woman in the world,” the presentation was a magnificent tribute to the exquisite style icon. I had the distinct pleasure and honor to attend this lovely ceremony, and speak with the remarkable designer in person—what a dream come true!
Mona Bismarck was a prominent American socialite and fashion icon that was revered by designers and artists alike. So much so that one of Salvador Dalí’s most acclaimed portraits is called “The Portrait of Mrs. Harrison Williams (1943), and depicts the famous countess. Mr. Givenchy reflected on the portrait and remarked, “This very beautiful painting by Dali, an imaginative portrait of Countess Bismarck ‘in rags,’ is particularly interesting, given that the Countess was passionate about clothes and wore them with remarkable elegance.” In an impressionist and modern art dazzling evening sale, Sotheby’s London auctioned off this superb portrait for over 2 million GPB last night.
An extraordinarily intimate walk through Mona’s fashionable life— It was as though we were in her home, and oddly to some degree we were, as the Mona Bismarck American Center for art & culture had been her luxurious Parisian townhouse in the 1950’s. Mr. Givenchy spoke of Mona with such grace and humility. His eyes lit up when he discussed designing for the charming countess. “Her great beauty and perfect elegance inspired couturiers of her time such as Mainboucher and Balenciaga. Mona Bismarck graced her time with her immense refinement, life style and enormous generosity. I myself was very privileged not only to know her well, but also to dress her over many years. For me it was a true delight.” As was it for me, what an absolute delight to meet such a distinguished designer, and hear his beautiful accolades about the captivating Countess Mona Bismarck.
Written by: Stacie Fleming
Images courtesy of: © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s