Gloria Guinness

Gloria Guinness
Born Gloria Rubio Altorre
(1913-08-27)August 27, 1913
Veracruz, Mexico[1]
Died November 9, 1980(1980-11-09) (aged 67)
Epalinges, Switzerland
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Cimetière du Bois de Vaux, Lausanne
Residence Epalinges, Paris, Piencourt in Normandy, New York City, Manalapan, Florida and Acapulco
Occupation Editor, socialite
Spouse(s) Jacobus H. Scholtens (m. 1933–35)
Franz Egon Graf von Fürstenberg-Herdringen (m. 1935–40)
Prince Ahmad Fakhry Bey (m. 1942–49)
Thomas "Loel" Guinness (m. 1951–80)
Children Mrs. Patrick Guinness (Dolores Guinness) Freiin von Fürstenberg-Herdringen
Franz-Egon Freiherr von Fürstenberg-Herdringen
Parent(s) José Rafael Rubio and Dolores Alatorre
Relatives Alexandra Cook, Loel Patrick Guinness and Victoria Niarchos, grandchildren

Gloria Guinness (née Gloria Rubio Alatorre; August 27, 1913[2][3] – November 9, 1980)[4] was a socialite and fashion icon, as well as a contributing editor to Harper's Bazaar from 1963 until 1971. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1964.[5][6]

Early life

Born in Guadalajara,[7] Mexico, she was a daughter of José Rafael Rubio Torres (1880-1916),[8] a journalist, and his wife, Maria Luisa Dolores Alatorre Diaz (b. 1882).[1][8][9] She had two elder siblings: Rafael and Maria Luisa.[10]

As a young woman, she reportedly worked as a nightclub hostess.[11]


Gloria Rubio was married four times, her spouses being:

(1) Jacobus Hendrik Franciscus Scholtens, a Dutch-born, Veracruz-based[12] sugar-factory superintendent,[13] whom she married in Mexico City on 31 March 1933.[14] Rubio was 20, and the groom, son of Jan Scholtens and Maria Le Comte, was 47.[15] They later divorced.[11][16]

(2) Franz-Egon Maria Meinhard Engelbert Pius Aloysius Kaspar Ferdinand Dietrich, third Graf von Fürstenberg-Herdringen (1896–1975), whom she married on October 4, 1935, in Kensington, London, England;[17] she was his second wife and had a stepdaughter from her husband's first marriage, the actress Betsy von Furstenberg. By him, she had two children:

  1. Maria Alexandra (born 1956) married Foulques, Count de Quatrebarbes (born 1948) in 1979, and, after their divorce, Neville Cook.
  2. Loel Patrick (born 1957).
  3. Victoria Christina (born 1960) married Philip Niarchos in 1984, son of Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.

(3) Ahmad-Abu-El-Fotouh Fakhry (1921–1998), whom she married in 1946 and divorced in 1949. The only child of Princess Fawkia of Egypt, Countess Wladimir d’Adix-Dellmensingen,[21] and her first husband, Mahmud Fakhry Pasha, he was a grandson of King Fuad I of Egypt and a nephew of Princess Fawzia of Egypt (the first wife of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran) and of King Farouk I of Egypt.[22]

(4) Group Captain Thomas Loel Guinness, a Member of Parliament (1906–1988) and a member of the extended Guinness beer family, though his particular branch made its fortune in banking and real estate. They married on April 7, 1951, in Antibes. By this marriage she had three stepchildren: Patrick Benjamin Guinness (1931-1965); William Loel Seymour Guinness (born 1939), and Belinda "Lindy" Guinness (born 1941, married the 5th and last Marquess of Dufferin and Ava).

Among her lovers was David Beatty, 2nd Earl Beatty, and the British ambassador to France Duff Cooper,[23] who wrote of her, "I have never loved anybody physically so much or been so supremely satisfied".[24]

Rumour of espionage

There is a long-standing rumor that Gloria Guinness was employed at some point as a spy and that when she married her fourth husband, she had no valid passport and was legally a citizen of no country. This rumor is to a certain degree borne out by her appearance in a series of supposedly nonfiction books written by Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones, who knew her during World War Two and was a friend, fellow spy (originally on opposite sides, the Countess was still an American citizen during the war, and an employee of the OSS), and sometime adversary of Gloria, who was by this point an almost legendary character, the glamorous "Countess von Fürstenberg" who maintained friendships with important Nazis, including Hermann Göring and even Adolf Hitler himself, and lived in neutral Madrid throughout the latter days of the Second World War as an espionage agent for the Axis.[25]

Six homes around the world

The Guinnesses had an apartment in Manhattan's Waldorf Towers, an 18th-century farmhouse called Villa Zanroc in Epalinges near Lausanne (with a bowling alley in the basement), a 350-ton yacht that plied the Mediterranean in the summer, a seven-story house on Avenue Matignon in Paris, decorated by Georges Geffroy (1903–1971), a stud farm in Normandy, Haras de Piencourt near Guy de Rothschild, and a mansion near Palm Beach at Lake Worth, Florida.[26][27][28] The Florida property, which is divided by U.S. Highway A1A, faces the lake on one side and the beach on the other; the two halves are connected by a specially built tunnel under the highway that Mrs. Guinness had decorated with furniture and screens painted by a young French artist she was interested in. In addition, the Guinnesses owned a house in Acapulco, Mexico,[29] designed by the Mexican architect Marco Antonio Aldaco.

They also kept three aircraft: an Avro Commander for short trips around Europe, a small jet, and a helicopter for Loel Guinness's hops between the Lake Worth house and the Palm Beach golf course.


She was dressed by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Marc Bohan at Christian Dior, Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Valentino Garavani, Halston and shoes by Roger Vivier.

She was one of the models to wear capri pants by Emilio Pucci. She was photographed for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Woman's Wear Daily by Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, John Rawlings, Toni Frissell, Horst P. Horst, Slim Aarons and Henry Clarke. Artist like René Bouché, Kenneth Paul Block and Alejo Vidal-Quadras (1919–94) painted her. She appeared on the International Best Dressed List from 1959 through 1963. The year after she was elevated into its Hall of Fame.


She gave an enormous number of items to Victoria & Albert Museum from Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, André Courrèges, Antonio del Castillo, Hubert de Givenchy, Hellstern and Jeanne Lafaurie, proving that she spread her commissions amongst many different couturiers.

Among the seventeen outfits, twelve hats and pairs of shoes that she donated were a 1948 Balenciaga evening gown of organdie with flock flowers, an evening gown from 1965, a 1949 hand-painted evening gown by Marcelle Chaumont (b. 1892, house closed in 1953), and a 1950s evening gown by Jeanne Lafaurie, the only dress by that designer in the collection of Victoria & Albert Museum.[30][31][32]

Some items by Cristóbal Balenciaga and Elsa Schiaparelli were donated to The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


Guinness wrote frequently for Harper's Bazaar, most famously asserting, in the magazine's July, 1963, issue: "Elegance is in the brain as well as the body and in the soul. Jesus Christ is the only example we have of any one human having possessed all three at the same time." She also wrote an appreciation to the catalogue The World of Balenciaga held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1973.


Gloria Guinness died of a heart attack at her home, Villa Zanroc in Epalinges, Switzerland at the age of 67. She is buried next to her last husband at Cimetière du Bois de Vaux in Lausanne. According to the gravestone she was born 1913. [2]

See also


  1. 1 2 Etti (Mrs Arpad) Plesch, Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch, Dorset: The Dovecote Press, 2007
  2. 1 2 The grave of Gloria Guinness
  3. Mosley, Charles, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 2, page 1695.
  4. Gloria Guinness, 67, Trend-Setter In Fashion and Hospitality, Dead, The New York Times, 10 November 1980
  5. VF Staff (1964). "World's Best Dressed Women". The International Hall of Fame: Women. Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  6. Ultimate Style - The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. pp. 82–85, 90. ISBN 2-843-23513- 8.
  7. Guadalajara given as place of birth on a 21 March 1932 border-crossing document accessed on on 21 March 2016
  8. 1 2 The Heirs of Europe: Niarchos, Monday, 27 December 2010
  9. The Rich: Having a Marvelous Time, TIME, January 26, 1962
  10. Names of siblings found on 1915 passenger list accessed on on 21 March 2016
  11. 1 2 Etti (Mrs Arpad) Plesch, Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch, Dorset: The Dovecote Press, 2007, page 79
  12. Birth and location cited on marriage record in Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1861-1950, accessed on on 21 March 2016
  13. Occupation cited on a passenger manifest dated 30 January 1930 and accessed on on 21 March 2016
  14. Date and location cited on marriage record in Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1861-1950, accessed on on 21 March 2016
  15. Ages and groom's parents' names cited on marriage record in Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1861-1950, accessed on on 21 March 2016
  16. Dreamwater Free Web Space: ERROR 404 at
  17. The marriage license, accessed on on 2 December 2013, gives the bride's name as Gloria R. de Scholtens
  18. Etti (Mrs Arpad) Plesch, Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch, Dorset: The Dovecote Press, 2007, page 156
  19. The title of Count von Fürstenberg-Hedringen was inherited by Franz-Egon's younger brother Wenemar (1897-1972) and his descendants, rather than by his own son by Gloria. Because of Franz-Egon's marriage to a divorcée, he was forced from the succession, according to laws of the house of Fürstenberg-Hedringen, as reported in the memoirs of Etti Plesch as well as the Almanac de Gotha. Fürstenberg-Herdringen Line: A Prussian graviate; the title was Graf von Fürstenberg-Herdringen, and an estate in tail, Besitz Herdringen, was given on January 16, 1843 to Franz Egon Freiherr von Fürstenberg of Herdringen (1818-1902) by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, Member of the Prussian House of Lords and Seneschal in the Duchy of Westphalia.
  20. Visnums kyrkoarkiv A II a: 22, E I:9 nr 4/1967.
  23. Etti (Mrs Arpad) Plesch, Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch, Dorset: The Dovecote Press, 2007, page 155
  24. Bill Patten, My Three Fathers: And the Elegant Deceptions of My Mother, Susan Mary Alsop (Public Affairs, 2008), page 127
  25. Gross, Michael (June 21, 1987). "untitled". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  26. Sheppard, Eugenia, Gloria Guinness Goes Her Own Way, St. Petersburg Times, December 23, 1968
  27. Boucher, Jacques, Vogues Fashions in Living - A house for the most elegant woman in the world": Mrs Loel Guinness' Villa Zanroc, VOGUE, March 1, 1961, page 178-183
  28. New York Times: "On the Block, Grande Dame Décor"
  29. Plumb, Barbara, Horst Interior, Bulfinch Press, 1993, page 108-111
  30. Evening dress from Balenciaga from 1948
  31. Evening dress from Balenciaga from 1965
  32. Hand-painted evening gown by Marcelle Chaumont from 1949


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