There is good taste – then, in a stratosphere all its own, there is Agnelli taste. Last October a breathtaking tome, The Last Swan, written by Agnelli and her niece Marella Caracciolo Chia was published by Rizzoli. It charts the life of the goddess of style through photographs many never published before. This is one of the famous modern fairy tales of love, glamour and heartbreak, Marella Agnelli has become an icon of our times. She married in 1953 the late Govanni Agnelli,, the charismatic scion of the Fiat empire and a man generally considered the unofficial king of Italy. Marella Agnelli, born Princess Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto is not only one of the great beauties of the last century, but also the most elegant and cultured of that exclusive club. She was photographed by the most famous artists of the day and it was Richard Avedon who nicknamed her The Swan. Her clothes her gardens and her many homes had a timeless elegance, each one housing many pieces from their renowned art collection. Agnelli born in 1927 and now 87 years old, is tall and rangy, with a narrow, angular face, thin and fine-boned. “She has always been chic” said one old friend “even in a straight skirt and blouse with the sleeves rolled up. Agnelli says of herself, “I never saw myself as a beauty, so it was important at least to be elegant” The photographs in the book portray a great beauty in a series of divine clothes, from the simplest chinos to the most glamerous ball gowns. Her homes shown in the book are truly envy making but there are details that can also inspire our own humble dwellings. I note that her favourite room fragrance is mine too, Bitter Orange by Agraria, so that’s all right then!
The book is ravishing, showing many of the wonderful Avedon photographs. The tour of the Agnelli homes and gardens is fascinating.