Mantilla Diva: Duchess of Alba, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart
Yesterday morning, the much-loved Duquesa de Alba (Duchess of Alba) Maria del Rosarion Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart passed away after a short illness. She was 88 years old. The much-loved Cayetana was the MOST TITLED aristocrat in the world. Rumor had it that even Queen Elizabeth II had to bow down to her! (not sure if that's true).
Crown Beauty: Cayetana, The Duchess of Alba at her first wedding (left) and in a portrait
She was the 18th Duchess of Alba and with that title, she was the head of one of Spain's most noble families. In other words, in terms of "trust funder" quotient, La Duquesa was THE EMPRESS and HOLDER of A MAJAH trust fund, kids. Besides her Duquesa de Alba title, Cayetana had six other Duchess titles, 19 Marquise titles, 22 Countess titles, one Viscountess and one Countess-Duchess title, besides many, many others. Now, since we're on the subject of numbers, the very colorful Duchess married three times and her last marriage--in 2011--caused a HUGE stir (her children and even Kind Juan Carlos of Spain did NOT approve!)--to a middle class social servant 25 years younger than her. I say "At-a-Girl!" to that. Her children were afraid that he would "manipulate" her to take all their inheritance money.
Hi-Lo Duchess: The Duchess of Alba and her third husband, former civil servant Alfonoso Diez--25 years her junior
Speaking of money...The Duchess of Alba was one of the richest women in Spain--as well as the world, owning many, many palaces, lots of land and amassed one of the most sought-after art collections in the entire world, including many paintings by Goya and Velasquez. No wonder her no-real-job children were worried. The Spanish public sided with her and not her children at the time, saying they were essentially being "money hungry" and that their beloved Duquesa just wanted to be happy with a younger man. She also--in not so many words--said "mind your own business and leave me alone!"
Duquesas de Alba by Goya--In case you're wondering, yes, these women in these famous Goya paintings are indeed relatives of Cayetana, the 18th Duchess of Alba.
Cayetana, the Duchess of Alba--super chic in a black one shoulder gown with gold accents--posing in front of one of her relatives--painted by Goya, naturally, in one of her palaces
Lets begin with the fact that STYLE and FASHION were in her genes...
Cayetana's mother, in Chanel , 1920s
Duchess of Alba's First Wedding Gown:
Dior Haute Couture Wedding: The Duchess of Alba's first wedding to Luis Martinez de Irujo y Artacoz, the bride wore Christian Dior. The wedding occurred in 1947 and was called (at the time) "the most expensive wedding in the world", according to the New York Times.
Ruffled Blouson Cocktail: For her second marriage in 1978--to former Jesuit priest Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate, she wore a silk cocktail dress from French-born Italy-based Couturier André Laug.
Flamenco Ruffled Duchess: For her third (and last time) at the altar, the Duchess of Alba, wed civil servant and PR business exec Alfonso Diez who was 25 years younger than her. She wore a custom-made dusty rose design from the Spanish design duo of Victorio & Lucchino
Duquesa de Alba Fashion Throw-Back:
January 1941 American Vogue Photo by Cecil Beaton--Duchess of Alba in Cristobal Balenciaga
1959 Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior Fashion Show: The Duchess organized a fashion show showcasing the then-Christian Dior designer Yves Saint Laurent --at a charity fundraiser for the Salesian Schools
March 1962 American Vogue, Duchess of Alba wearing a designs from Spanish Couturier Elio Berhanyer in her Palacio de Liria (Liria Palace Madrid)
Style Divas: Former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Visits Spain in 1967 and is entertained by the Duchess of Alba
Duquesa de Alba circa 1970's
Bright colors and prints:
Graphic printed dress--with second husband Jesus Aguirre, 1980's
Red ruffled dress--with third husband Alfonso Diez
Green empire-style gown--State Dinner for Prince Charles and Camilla--with then-Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia of Spain
Colorful flats and details
Duquesa Prints: Cayetana, the Duchess of Alba loved a great print--whether it was a hat, bikini bathing suit or an animal print coat
Headdress Diva: The Duchess of Alba also loved a good headdress--a hat, a Peineta/mantilla, or fascinator...it was all fab fashion for her.
RIP and Que En Paz Descanse Duchess of Alba, a STYLE ICON Diva.