Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Whatever Happened to?

For someone who was one of the top models of the 1950’s and who had a high profile marriage and affair it is surprising that so little information seems to be available on Fiona Campbell-Walter before and even after she achieved her fame. Lots of photographs out there, but as to the lady herself; nothing. Invariably when doing research all I came up with the names of the famous, titled and wealthy men she was associated with.

Born Fiona Frances Elaine Campbell-Walter in New Zealand in 1932, she was at the top of her game in the 1950’s as one of the most popular models of her day. Some of the photos of her modelling are some of the most recognised for the era. Unlike Bronwen Pugh who modelled exclusively for Balmain she modelled for a plethora of designers such as Balenciaga, Schiaparelli and Fath.

In Schiaparelli
Royal photographer Cecil Beaton claimed her as his favourite model, and she regularly graced the cover of glossy magazines such as Vogue, earning 2000 Pounds a day, considered a fortune in the mid-50s.

In Balenciaga
One photographer said of her: "She was so young then the make-up wouldn't stay on her face. Her skin wouldn't support make-up; she was so fresh and beautiful, with that marvellous profile and great allure."

In 1957, after an engagement that lasted just 12 hours she married the Swiss billionaire Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen Bornemisza, who even at this stage was amassing one of the greatest private art collections the world has ever seen. He also being one of the world's richest and most sought-after playboys, it seemed a match made in heaven.

Theirs was a glamorous life as can be seen by the photos of the Baroness languishing underneath a fur blanket while in the Swiss Alps.

Life was hard for the ex-model who now “as a housewife she sees that the pictures on the wall hang straight as they should in a great collection of art”

Their daughter Francesca married Karl Habsburg-Lothringen heir to the headship of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.

Fiona and her husband divorced 1965, and she went on to have a well-publicized relationship with Greek shipping heir Alexander Onassis, the only son of Aristotle Onassis, who died in 1973 aged 25 in a plane crash. She was 16 years his senior and of whom his father strongly disapproved. It is believed now that Onassis had intentions of marrying her despite his father's energetic attempts to break them up.

After this highly publicized affair she is now completely off the radar, as it seemed that after her divorce from the Baron it was the beginning of this raven-haired beauty’s fall from grace. With the Baron’s death there was a scrabble by family, numerous ex wives and governments for the art collection, but as to Fiona, well …………

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