Liliane Bettencourt, the style of a 20th century French heiress

The L’Oréal heiress, who died in 2017, was one of the major clients of French haute couture. As Netflix creates buzz with the docu-series ‘The Bettencourt Affair: Scandal among the richest woman in the world’, we look back at her most emblematic looks over the years.

After the death of Coco Chanel in 1971 and before the arrival of Karl Lagerfeld ten years later, the house on rue Cambon looked more like a mausoleum than a flagship of haute couture. Fortunately, some very wealthy customers remained loyal to Chanel Tweed. “Liliane Bettencourt continued to hand out copious tips on each visit (in the shop at 31 rue Cambon). The workers quickly closed their hands when they came into contact with the stacks of banknotes, not daring to look to see if it was Delacroix. (100 francs) or Pascal (500 francs). Sometimes, if one of them managed to warn her friends about the arrival of the L’Oréal heiress, they would suddenly all come running to take a closer look at this dear customer, whose smallest suit required on average almost a month of work (150 hours) ..” (in Behind the scenes of haute couture, by Martine Cartégini, ed. Hugo Publisher)

Liliane Bettencourt and her husband André, a deputy at the time, came to Rouen to witness the departure of the British liner Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. – / AFP

Liliane Bettencourt was still discreet in the media when, in 1957, at the age of 35, she inherited the L’Oréal family group from her father Eugène Schueller. But over the years she will print the film of her Ava Gardner melodies and her style that is both classical and jet set. From charity dinners to evenings at the Opera, she marked the history of French haute couture, an unconditional fan of Chanel, but also of Hermès, of which she wore a silk scarf around her neck.

With her Ava Gardner look, Liliane Bettencourt in fur at the film premiere love storyin 1971. / Bridgeman Images

His billionaire wardrobe includes many fur coats, trapeze coats from Pierre Cardin, floral dresses from Ungaro, but also very beautiful suits from Giorgio Armani. It was also during the Italian designer’s fashion show in January 2011 that the reconciliation between Liliane Bettencourt and her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers was orchestrated…

From left to right, front row, Claude Pompidou, Bernadette Chirac, Liliane Bettencourt and Eva Barre at the Chanel fashion show in Paris in 1979. PIERRE GUILLAUD / EPI

With Maria Callas at the Foundation for Medical Research gala at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1970. AFP

Passionate about jewelry and especially earrings that emphasized her impeccable blow-dry in all circumstances, the heiress had housed part of her collection in a safe of the BNP Paribas agency opposite the Garnier Opera House, the lavish contents of which will be revealed to everyone in 2009. by a bailiff in the context of the investigation into François-Marie Banier. The 1.20 m strong case contains about thirty exceptional pieces of diamonds, emeralds and rubies (some jewels left by his parents)… and even a bag containing a handful of never-mounted diamonds.

The Bettencourt couple at the Gala for the disabled children of Marlène Dietrich. © Giovanni Coruzzi / Bridgeman Images

The French heiress of the French Academy of Fine Arts for her husband’s induction speech in 1988. GERARD FOUET / EPI

Liliane Bettencourt and Claude Pompidou for Jacques Brel’s musicalMan from La ManchaDecember 1968 Getty

In 2008, at the film’s premiere Faubourg 36 in Paris, in a silver trench coat. AFP

In a maximalist floral dress by Emanuel Ungaro and on the arm of her husband, André Bettencourt in 1989, in Paris. AFP

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