The Hon. Daisy Fellowes (née Marguerite Séverine Philippine Decazes de Glücksberg) (29 April 1890, Paris – 13 December 1962, Paris),[ was a celebrated 20th-century society figure, acclaimed beauty, minor novelist and poet, Paris Editor of American Harper's Bazaar, fashion icon, and an heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune.
She was born in Paris, the only daughter of Isabelle-Blanche Singer (1869–1896) and Jean Élie Octave Louis Sévère Amanieu Decazes (1864–1912), the 3rd Duke Decazes and Glücksberg. Her maternal grandfather was Isaac Merritt Singer, the American sewing-machine pioneer. After her mother's suicide, she and her siblings were largely raised by their maternal aunt Winnaretta Singer, Princess Edmond de Polignac, a noted patron of the arts, particularly music.
Her first husband, whom she married 10 May 1910 in Paris, was Jean Amédée Marie Anatole de Broglie Prince de Broglie (born in Paris on 27 January 1886). He reportedly died of influenza on 20 February 1918 while serving with the French Army in Mascara, Algeria, though malicious observers gossiped that he actually committed suicide as a result of his homosexuality having been exposed.
Their country estate was Compton Beauchamp House were they raised three daughters:
Princess Emmeline Isabelle Edmée Séverine de Broglie (Neuilly, 16 February 1911 – Onez, Switzerland, 10 September 1986). Married to Marie Alexandre William Alvar de Biaudos, Comte de Castéja (Paris, 6 April 1907 – Paris, 6 July 1983) in Neuilly, 8 November 1932. Accused of collaboration during World War II, Emmeline de Castéja spent five months in the prison at Frèsnes, France.
Princess Isabelle Marguerite Jeanne Pauline de Broglie (Lamorlaye, 27 July 1912 – Geneva, 18 July 1960). Married to Olivier Charles Humbert Marie, Marquis de La Moussaye (La Poterie, 26 Mars 1908 – Paris, 20 October 1988) in Neuilly, 3 June 1931. Divorced in Paris, 13 April 1945. Isabelle de La Moussaye was a novelist.
Princess Jacqueline Marguerite de Broglie (Paris, 5 January 1918 – Crans-Montana, Valais 26 February 1965). Married to Alfred Ignaz Maria Kraus (Sarajevo, 28 November 1908–) in Neuilly, France, 6 October 1941. Divorced in Münster 3 February 1958. After her husband—a Siemens electronics senior manager who served as a counter-espionage agent with the [Abwehr]—was accused of betraying members of the French Resistance during World War II to protect his wife, also a member of the Resistance, Jacqueline Kraus had her head shaved as punishment.
Of her Broglie children, the notoriously caustic Fellowes once said, "The eldest, Emmeline, is like my first husband only a great deal more masculine; the second, Isabelle, is like me without guts; [and] the third, Jacqueline, was the result of a horrible man called Lischmann ...."
Her second husband, whom she married on 9 August 1919 in London, was The Hon. Reginald Ailwyn Fellowes (1884–1953), of Donnington Grove. He was a banker cousin of Winston Churchill and the son of William Fellowes, 2nd Baron de Ramsey.
They had one child, Rosamond Daisy Fellowes (1921–1998). She married in 1941 (divorced 1945), as her first husband, Captain James Gladstone, and had one son, James Reginald (born 1943). He married Mary Valentine Chiodetti in 1965. She married in 1953 (divorced), as her second husband, Tadeusz Maria Wiszniewski (1917–2005); they had one daughter, Diana Marguerite Mary Wiszniewska (born 1953).
Among Fellowes's lovers was Duff Cooper, the British ambassador to France. She also attempted to seduce Winston Churchill, shortly before marrying his cousin Reginald Fellowes, but failed.
Fellowes wrote several novels and at least one epic poem. Her best-known work is Les dimanches de la comtesse de Narbonne (1931, published in English as "Sundays"). She also wrote the novel Cats in the Isle of Man.
She was known as one of the most daring fashion plates of the 20th century, arguably the most important patron of the surrealist couturier Elsa Schiaparelli. She was also a friend of the jeweller Suzanne Belperron. She was also a longtime customer of jeweller Cartier.
Daisy Fellowes died at her hotel particulier on the Rue de Lille number 69, Paris
The Most wicked woman in High Society
She lived on grouse, cocaine and other women's husbands. As her gems are sold at Sotheby's, the jaw-dropping story of... the most wicked woman in High Society
Daisy Fellowes was the living embodiment of Thirties chic
She was a voracious man-eater, who’d steal her daughters’ boyfriends and seduce her best friends’ husbands
By CHRISTOPHER WILSON
PUBLISHED: 00:28 GMT, 29 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:51 GMT, 29 March 2014 / http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2592037/Daisy-Fellowes-wicked-woman-High-Society.html
She was rich, ugly, dissolute and ‘the destroyer of many a happy home’ as one ex-lover bitterly put it.
She did her best to seduce a married Winston Churchill and when that failed, wed his cousin. She lived on a diet of morphine and grouse, with the occasional cocktail thrown in.
The colour Shocking Pink was created for her — and how she loved to shock! If it wasn’t morphine then it was opium or cocaine, and she loved nothing better than discussing her private collection of leather-bound volumes of pornography.
When it came to sex she was a voracious man-eater, who’d steal her daughters’ boyfriends and seduce her best friends’ husbands.
Yet Daisy Fellowes was also the living embodiment of Thirties chic, a style icon who inspired designers Chanel and Schiaparelli and who wore so many jewels they weighed her tiny body down.
Heiress to the Singer sewing machine empire, she was ‘the very picture of fashionable depravity’, according to her rival Lady Diana Cooper. And Lady Diana should know — Daisy bedded her husband and determinedly remained his mistress for 17 years.
The uber-rich Mrs Fellowes was also the greatest collector of fine jewellery the 20th century ever saw. Her rapacious and salacious life was remembered this week when one of her pieces — a crystal and pearl clip — was among the highlights of Sotheby’s spring gem sales.
Though she became a central part of Mayfair society during the inter-war years, buying up the friendship of royalty, ministers, peers and moguls, Daisy was in fact half-French, half-American.
Her mother was Isabelle Singer, daughter of the inventor of the first commercially successful sewing machine, while her father was a French aristocrat, the Duc Decazes.
At 19, she was married off to Prince Jean de Broglie, but the relationship fell apart when she found him in bed with the chauffeur.
Marriage, however, had unlocked an inextinguishable sexuality and soon she was to be found in the Ritz Hotel in Paris desperately trying to bed Winston Churchill, then a young MP.
According to Winston’s later private secretary, Jock Colville: ‘She was a wicked but attractive woman who, according to Mrs Churchill, tried to seduce her husband shortly after their marriage. It was unsuccessful and she was forgiven, even by Clementine.’
By now, Daisy had three children. ‘The oldest, Ermeline, is like my first husband only a great deal more masculine. The second, Isabelle, is like me, only without guts; the third was the result of a horrible man called Lischmann,’ she spat when someone gently inquired about them.
Nonetheless she had a sneaking fondness for children — but only at a distance. One day strolling in a park, she exclaimed: ‘Oh look at those pretty little girls. Aren’t they beautifully dressed! We must go and ask the nurse whose they are.’ Walking over, Daisy duly asked: ‘Whose lovely little children are these?’
‘Yours, Madam!’ snapped the nurse.
‘She was fascinating and I suppose wicked; her wickedness was on a scale that it had its own distinction,’ declared David Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke. Again, he should know — Daisy threw herself at his bumbling father in the hope of becoming an English countess.
After a brief dalliance in Paris, Pembroke realised what a lightning storm he’d walked into and tried to back away.
Her brother, now having succeeded their father as the Duc Decazes, claimed her reputation had been damaged by this rejection and challenged the bewildered Pembroke to a duel. The peer scuttled back across the English Channel and Daisy returned to flicking through the pages of Burke’s Peerage for a new husband.
He was soon to arrive. But first Daisy decided that a little remodelling was in order. It was not sufficient that she was rich, she must have breeding and looks to match.
After commissioning a portrait of herself she’d been appalled by the result and set to work. She had a nose-job, without anaesthetic, threw away her entire wardrobe and started to consult couturiers. And she began, very seriously, reading books.
Daisy described herself as always being ‘on the scent’ of new conquest
The Daisy that the Hon. Reggie Fellowes met and married was a very different article to the teenager who’d wed the Prince de Broglie.
Her new husband was rich, a banker, the son of the second Baron de Ramsey, connected to Winston Churchill through the Dukes of Marlborough, and a decidedly good egg. The couple made their home in France, with frequent visits to London.
In the milieu she now inhabited, sexual freedom was obligatory once she’d secured the marriage by having a child with Fellowes. A friend recalled Daisy in Monte Carlo with her lover Fred Cripps, later Lord Parmoor: ‘She and Fred tracked Reggie down to a brothel and through a rough glass window watched him perform with a poll [prostitute]. He didn’t know of course, but they told him afterwards.’
Rich, wayward, uncontrollable, her marriage remained a success despite her determination to cuckold as many wives as possible. She described herself as always being ‘on the scent’ of new conquest. ‘It’s a thrilling feeling,’ she confessed, ‘like tasting absinthe for the first time. Soon the man asks: “When may I come to tea?” — that’s when I sharpen the knife.’
The painter Sir Francis Rose was both fearful and admiring: ‘She’s as dangerous as an albatross,’ he declared. Another lover, Alfred Duff Cooper, father of writer John Julius Norwich, described how smoking opium before sex lowered her inhibitions to the point of extinction.
While in Paris she mixed with the new, thrilling art movement which included the writer Jean Cocteau and Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes. When Diaghilev’s star ballerina complained of a headache, Daisy produced ‘a white powder which worked wonders’. It was cocaine, her new drug of choice.
The composer and painter Lord Berners was similarly introduced to the dubious delights of cocaine by Daisy and was soon serving it during decorous tea-parties at Faringdon, his Oxfordshire stately home.
But by the time Duff Cooper was Britain’s ambassador in Paris, at the end of World War II, Daisy had moved on again.
Diana Cooper learned from her friendly rival — she tolerated, even encouraged, her husband’s on-off affair with Mrs Fellowes — how to jazz up a boring drinks party. ‘Just pour Benzedrine [an amphetamine] into the cocktails, darling!’
Daisy kept two yachts on the go, crewed and ready for action, in the Mediterranean. Her hospitality was lavish, but it came at a price.
Society photographer Cecil Beaton jumped ship after a brutal few days cooped up with his hostess under azure-blue skies: ‘Daisy has been impossible. She bullies one person, keeping the others on her side until it’s time to bully the next person. She is spoilt, capricious, and wicked.’
Other guests on her bigger yacht, the Sister Anne, included the Prince of Wales and a then unknown American, Wallis Simpson. The romance between the soon-to-be King and his divorcee was still fresh, ‘otherwise, make no mistake, Daisy would have gone for him’, observed a fellow passenger.
It was Daisy's clothes — and her jewels — that people talked about most
It was 1935 and the world would have to wait another year to discover who the Prince loved enough to give up his throne for — but in the calm waters of the Mediterranean Daisy Fellowes was already privy to the country’s most devastating secret.
All these things, good and bad, should have made Daisy the focus of Society’s attention, but it was her clothes — and her jewels — that people talked about most.
There were diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, outside the Crown Jewels, there was nothing to match them. The big jewellers of the day, Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, were in seventh heaven for she never stopped shopping.
Vogue magazine saluted her ‘for daring to be different’. At the Ritz, diners climbed on chairs to get a glimpse of her Schiaparelli monkey-fur coat embroidered in gold, and she shocked the public by wearing a Surrealist hat shaped like a high-heeled shoe.
It was then that Schiaparelli invented ‘shocking pink’ for Daisy, and she wore it with panache — a lobster dress, or a black suit with pink lips for pockets.
Alas, all legends fade and World War II helped reshape society. Daisy was getting older, while husband Reggie was in a wheelchair.
She was deeply shamed to discover that her daughter, Jacqueline, who stayed in France and heroically worked for the French Resistance, had unknowingly married a German spy who betrayed her Resistance colleagues.
Jacqueline, who retained her family title of Princess de Broglie, had her head shaved publicly as a punishment. A once-proud family, one of the richest in Europe, was humbled.
As old age set in, Daisy’s thoughts returned to her childhood. Her mother had committed suicide when Daisy was only four. Now her thoughts moved along similar lines and on more than one occasion she attempted to take her own life.
The long-suffering, fun-loving Reggie, who she stuck with till the bitter end, died around the time of her 63rd birthday. Daisy returned to Paris, to a vast town-house in the Rue de Lille, and slowly the shades were drawn around her.
She died aged 72, but already the world had moved on. In the age of The Beatles, nobody cared to hear about a woman who wore a shoe for a hat, had a shade of pink named for her, collected the biggest set of priceless jewels ever known and encouraged people to take cocaine with their cup of tea. The new world seemed more interesting than that.