Begone beauties: Belles of the Belle Epoque

These begone beauties, long forgotten, were the It-girls of their era. More than a hundred years ago, at the dawn of the 20th century, they were the most talked about, photographed women of their age way before mass media, internet and pop culture. Women wanted to be like them, men desired them,  artists and fashion celebrated them as muses. Their names were were Lillian Gish, Maud Fealy, Ethel Barrymore, Cleo de Merode, Liane de Pougy, Valtesse de la Bigne, Lina Cavalieri, Castiglione…they were courtisanes, actresses, aristocrats, models, even spy….

 

belleepo1

Maud Fealy – film and stage actress

belleepo28

Evelyn Nesbit – Model, Gibson Girl, US most photographed woman of her era

bellepo5

Cleo de Merode – the original It-girl and fashion icon, also a dancer and courtisane of the Belle Epoque

belleepo31 lantelme evelyne

Geneviève Lantelme – famous socialite, actress and courtisane of Paris Belle Epoque

belleepo22

Lillian Guish – the original Hollywood film star

bellepo23

Ethel Barrymore – Early silver screen star

belleepo7

Ida Rubinstein, russian dancer and patron of the arts,fashion icon of the early 1900’s

BELLAEPO201

Valtesse de la Bigne who inspired Zola’s « Nana »,  another Belle Epoque parisian famous courtisane

belleo13

Lina Cavallieri – famous singer and actress, courtisane of the Belle Epoque

belleepo camille pastorfield

Camille Pastorfield – Broadway actress of the early 1900’s

belleepo26

belleepo24

BELLEPO21

Comtesse de Castiglione – famous courtisane and spy, mistress of Emperor Napoleon III

belleepo30

bellepo27

belleepo9

Comtesse Greffulhe – French aristocrat, patron of the arts and fashion icon, friend of Marcel Proust, she inspired Proust’s Duchesse de Guermantes character