Fiona Campbell-Walter / Thyssen
"Her aristocratic beauty had a mysterious, subtle sensuality that perfectly represented the glamour of a period in which elegance was never an opinion. She was a true English, better yet, Scottish rose. Sir Cecil Beaton said that she was his favorite muse, with the type of mysterious, sophisticated face that he adored and the gracefulness of a lady. Fiona Frances Elaine Campbell-Walter, better known as Baroness Fiona von Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon after her marriage to the steel magnate and super-art collector Hans Heinrich Thyssen, a.k.a.“Heini”, left her mark on almost three decades of the 20th century, starting in the fifties when she first worked as a model. She was born on June 25, 1932 in Auckland, New Zealand, to a rear admiral of the Royal British Navy and the daughter of Sir Edward Taswell-Campbell.
Her brilliant career, which was immortalized by interpreters of an evocative, sleek, dreamy photographic style such as Henry Clarke and Norman Parkinson but also by the nuanced modernity of David Bailey, brought her to incarnate the creative lines of Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Grès, Nina Ricci, Lanvin, Dessès, Jacques Fath, Dior and Valentino. Her chic look blended a neo-classical and impressionist artistic mood with a vibrant idea of modernity. Combining Edwardian references and the revolutionary youthful feel of Swinging London, Fiona passed from photos with extremely complex, theatrical poses to the simplicity of a beach, where she posed makeup-free and wrapped in a towel, as she was portrayed by Georges Dambier in 1954, draped in a Givenchy beach towel. Her marriage to Heini (who had reached his third wedding) that took place in 1956, twelve hours after first meeting on the ski slopes of Saint Moritz, floundered and ended bitterly in 1965.
She returned to London with their two children Francesca and Lorne, leaving behind the palazzo on Lake Lugano filled with fabulous works of art. Love would return again thanks to her tumultuous affair with Alexander Onassis, which was strongly contested by his father Aristotle also due to the difference in age because Fiona was 16 years older than Alexander. Today, still gorgeous and proud, as if time could not fade her beauty, Fiona mainly divides her time between the islands of Greece and Vienna. She is often seen in company of her daughter Francesca, who became the Archduchess of Austria after marrying Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen. Now living a secluded life and taking care of the grandchildren, Fiona Thyssen is certainly far from the dazzling, frenetic and glamorous limelight."
Cesare Cunaccia, excerpt from Vogue Italia, September 2014, n. 769, p.366
Published: 09/25/2014 - 07:00
The tumultuous affair with Alexander Onassis
Fiona Campbell-Walter, née Fiona Frances Elaine Campbell-Walter le 25 juin 1932 à Auckland, est un modèlen britannique des années 1950, citée comme le « plus beau » modèle de Vogue. Elle devient baronne Thyssen à la suite de son mariage.
Les années 1950 voient plusieurs mannequins au style aristocratique et sophistiqué ; Fiona Campbell-Walter est de ceux-là. Son père est le vice-amiral Keith McNeill Campbell-Waltern , aide de camp du Roi George VIa . « Bien née », elle fait partie du Gotha de l'époque, apparaissant toujours élégante1. Sa mère l'encourage à devenir modèle, et dès l'adolescence, elle est photographiée par le prolifique Henry Clarke qu'elle a rencontré à Londres. Elle intègre l'agence de Lucie Clayton (en) et se voit publiée pour les différentes éditions internationales de Vogue et accède à la notoriété.
Favorite de Cecil Beaton, le portraitiste officiel de la famille royale d'Angleterre, elle est au sommet de sa carrière au milieu des années 1950, gagnant jusqu'à 2 000 £ par jour. Elle a le rare privilège pour un mannequin d'apparaitre en couverture de Life Magazine en janvier 19534. Modèle élégant et sophistiqué à la taille très fine — sans corset —, elle porte aussi bien le tailleur que la grande robe de bal3. Ses proportions particulières, entièrement naturelles et à l'opposé des canons de l'époque incarnés par Elizabeth Taylor ou Gina Lollobrigida, sont un exemple pour les femmes.
Fiona Campbell-Walter devient la troisième femme du riche Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon en septembre 1956 et se retire du métier de mannequin. Alors appelée la baronne Thyssen, elle s'installe à la Villa Favorita au-dessus du lac de Lugano5, ayant de par le monde une vie mondaine faite de voyages et réceptions, mélange d'élégance, de culture et de pouvoir6. Elle a deux enfants, dont Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza en 1958 et un fils, Lorne, en 1963. Elle divorce peu de temps après la naissance de son fils et part avec ses enfants s'installer à Londres
Au printemps 1969, elle défraie brièvement la chronique à cause d'une liaison, qualifiée d'intense, avec Alexander le fils d'Aristote Onassis, âgé de seize ans de moins qu'elle : des projets de mariage sont annoncés, puis annulés à la suite de l'entremise de Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassisa 4. Alexander Onassis meurt en janvier 1973 dans un accident d'avion, scellant ainsi leur séparation5. Fiona Campbell-Walter se consacre à la protection des animaux
Surnommée le « plus beau » modèle de Vogue, Fiona Campbell-Walter a une carrière relativement courte au milieu des années 1950, bien qu'elle apparaisse encore ponctuellement jusqu'au au milieu des années 1960 sur des photographies de mode3. Elle restera, avec Barbara Goalen et Anne Gunningn , l'un des trois grands modèles britanniques de cette époquea
La courte carrière de Fiona Campbell-Walter lui fait malgré tout travailler avec de nombreux photographes de mode majeurs de cette époque : Henry Clarke dès le début puis très souvent par la suite, John Deakin dans les années 1950, Frances McLaughlin-Gilln 4, John French (en), le photographe-mentor de sa consœur Barbara Goalena 7, plusieurs fois dont en 1951 et 1953 ; ce dernier sera l'auteur d'une photo de Fiona Campbell-Walter avec Anne Gunning en 1953, toutes deux en tailleur, image reprise dans certaines sources. La même année 1953, elle est sous l'objectif de Norman Parkinson, Milton Greene, ou Georges Dambier habillée en Marc Bohan pour le magazine Elle de l'hivern 5. Vers ces années 1950, c'est le mondain Cecil Beaton, « le plus notoire de ses inconditionnels4 » qui la photographie plusieurs fois ; il le fera encore en 1966 tout comme David Bailey deux ans plus tard pour le British Vogue du mois de février. Habituée du Vogue français, Fiona Campbell-Walter fait, entre autres, une couverture en 1952 habillée en Jacques Fath, celle du numéro de décembre 1953 en robe et fourrure, ainsi que juin 1955 en maillot de bain de la maison Jean Patou.
Baron Heinrich von Thyssen
A billionaire industrialist, he spent his life building the greatest art collection in private hands
Mon 29 Apr 2002 02.22 BST
The Swiss billionaire Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen Bornemisza, who has died aged 81, accumulated arguably the greatest private art collection in the world. All his adult life, he invested his wealth in art to augment the collection he had inherited from his father.
In the early 1990s, realising that his collection of almost 800 paintings had outgrown his home in Lugano, Switzerland, the baron began to look for a new location. Spain won the day over stiff competition for a collection said to outstrip even that of the Queen. Both Prince Charles and Mrs Thatcher flew to Switzerland to put in a bid for Britain; President Mitterand lobbied for France; the Getty Foundation offered millions of dollars for the United States; and the Swiss government tried to block the paintings' export.
But, in 1993, the pressure of the bedroom decided matters in favour of the birthplace of the baron's fifth wife, Carmen "Tita" Cervera, a former beauty queen and widow of Tarzan Of The Apes actor Lex Barker. She negotiated with the Spanish government, who paid more than £241m for the collection, and donated the Villahermosa palace in Madrid, near the Prado, to house it. The contract was for 10 years but, after further negotations, it was agreed that the Villahermosa should became its permanent home.
Relations between "Baron Heini" and his older children, long tense, were aggravated after his marriage to Baroness Tita, who was once described by his daughter Francesca as "the wicked stepmother". Four years ago, he accused his oldest son, 52-year-old Georg (or Heini Jr), of negligence in the running of the family trust, which had been signed over to him five years earlier.
The baron launched court proceedings against Heini Jr to regain control of the billion-dollar holdings in the Bahamas. It was a case that threatened to enrich only the expensive lawyers employed by both sides; finally, last year, the two came to a private agreement.
Von Thyssen was born in Scheveningen, Holland, the fourth, and youngest, child of Heinrich von Thyssen, a wealthy German industrialist, and Margit Bornemisza, a Hungarian aristocrat. The family empire, founded on shipbuilding, coal, steel and iron, had been started by the baron's grandfather, August, who left his fortune to his two sons, Fritz and Heinrich, in 1926.
The grandfather was not a collector on the scale of his son and grandson, but was an admirer of Auguste Rodin, from whom he commissioned a set of six marble sculptures (they remain one of the gems of the collection). Relations between the brothers were acrimonious, with Fritz a sympathiser and financial supporter of the Nazis; his industrial interests would eventually form the basis of the Thyssen-Krupp group.
Heinrich Sr inherited August's love of art, along with the other financial benefits. He built up the collection with wise investments, buying at bargain-basement prices from American magnates ruined in the 1929 crash. Heinrich and his wife divorced in 1931, and 10-year-old Heini moved with his father to Switzerland, where they adopted Swiss nationality the following year.
Heini was only 26 when his father died in 1947, leaving his fortune, and 525 paintings and other art works, to his children. As the only sibling who had inherited their father's love of art, after an acrimonious court case Heini set about buying the collection back from his brother Stefan and sisters Margit and Gabrielle.
Heinrich Sr had invested heavily in art works up to the 18th century, but his son's interests favoured 19th- and 20th-century works; his purchases created a priceless collection, and a course in the history of art under a single roof. For many years, his vast wealth permitted him to take his place among the international jet-set, attending all the best parties and staying at the best hotels, while sitting on the boards of some 30 companies, many of them in IT and the technical sector.
Until his health began to fail, Heini and Baroness Tita continued this lifestyle, shuttling between their various mansions in Switzerland, three in Spain, Jamaica, Paris and London, which they filled with priceless and favoured paintings.
The baron is survived by Tita - his fifth wife - and his five children. These are Heini Jr, son of his first wife, the Austrian Princess Teresa zur Lippe Weissenfeld; Francesca (married to Karl von Hapsburg) and Lorne, by his third wife, the British former model Fiona Campbell-Walter; Alexander, from his fourth marriage, to the Brazilian Denise Shorto; and Borjahe, Carmen Cervera's son, whom he adopted. His second wife was Nina Dyer.
· Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen Bornemisza de Kaszon, industrialist and art collector, born April 13 1921; died April 27 2002