#1 – Mona, Countess of Bismarck was born Mona Strader in Louisville, Kentucky. Her father was the manager of a horse farm and the family’s circumstances were considerably modest.
#2 – Mona married five times during her lifetime. Most notable was her third marriage to Harrison Williams, the “richest man in America,” which propelled her into the highest of society.
#3 – In 1933 she was voted the best dressed woman in the world by Molyneux, Lanvin, Vionnet, Lelong and Chanel. Chanel would later have an affair with Mona’s husband.
#4- Among other novelties, she owned a jeweled cigarette case (pictured above) once belonging to Louis XIV.
#5 – Salvador Dali painted her and Cole Porter mentioned her in a song. When she was seen in public with sheer nail polish Vogue ran a news article about it.
#6 – Her Christmas tree one year was made entirely of ermine tales.
#7 – When Balenciaga announced his retirement from the fashion world in 1968 Diana Vreeland was visiting Mona in Capri and reminisced, “Mona didn’t come out of her room for three days. She went into complete shock; it was the end of a certain part of her life.”
#8 – White was her signature color. Despite the fact that black was considered “fashionable” for the time, Mona rarely wore it and never before late in the afternoon. She favored solids as they allowed her to showcase her magnificent collection of jewels.
#9 – She hired Syrie Maugham to create one of the earliest all-white drawing rooms in America. They even lined white fabric with pink material for a little added glow.
#10 – Mona’s famous retreat in Capri was named Il Fortino and was an abandoned Roman fortress that was once the summer residence of Caesar Augustus and the late emperor Tiberius. Overlooking the Bay of Naples, Mona’s favorite part of the property was its gardens where she spent countless hours each day.