Debonnaire von Bismarck, or Countess Debbie as she is known is a rare thing in England. She is not only the wife of Leopold, a descendant of Otto Bismarck, the grand ruler of Germany, a couple of decades pushed back, she is also a vintage retro goddess residing in a sunny structural landscape in leafy Belgravia. She has countless high-profile visitors drop by occasionally in her house but other than that what really ever keeps her company is her numerous well-pruned selection of maids in starched blue, white uniforms, graced with their own kitchen.
Bismarck’s accommodation is very subdued retro: imagine grand ceilings, a lift for lazy days, a personal bar compact with buttoned-up stools, bedrooms that possess dressing rooms (let me elaborate: a four poster bed, animal rugs on the floor and a mirrored-out dressing room), a personal kitchen, and even a small library. She likes stone architecture, the scent of jasmine, and loves the Mediterranean – that would be a good bet on white she has white leather furnishings, mahogany tables lined with wine glasses, rainbow coloured Perspex bowls that are packed with her favourite sweet treat: jellybeans, old family photographs, ashtrays, a Giacometti sculpture, lemon trees and terracotta craftings practically everywhere.
Debbie looks like a hapless doll to me, with her fine cheekbones, doleful eyes, chestnut-coloured hair. She seems to be lost in her retro vintage world of glamour and is as tanned as teak on most occasions. Her fashion is inspired from the Mediterranean terrains too, because at home she is always in a kaftan, she seems to have one in every print/shade/colour – gold, rose, leopards, Afrikaans prints she’s done it all. At social gatherings, Debbie’s dress code swiftly alters to a more casual number however, which is surprising, given her air of fashion stalking whilst accessorising her house.
As a former model for the uptown jeans label, Levi’s, she knows how to throw a mean retro party for a crowd you would better never mix with, if you still have your wits about you. But she loves these parties because her house is a lonely figure, despite the blue-starched uniformed maids and she enjoys packing it up with guests who love to pair their children for prospective marriages and converse about their ‘enviable’ photographic careers accomplished quite early hard-slogging, if that is what you can call it fitting some definition, by most standards.
What is interesting is how the Countess can actually manage to sit through these parties without losing her mind because the conversations here are really about self-indulgent declarations and denials of how difficult it is to lose weight, look good without makeup, in this day and age. In a past avatar, she held destruction parties in old houses just to trash the place with friends and say goodbye to it – does it sound out of place with her D&G, Isabel Marant, Gucci, YSL and Chanel labels? Because it is not!
As a thoroughbred Brit, Debbie respects her privacy and the mere thought of having it disturbed even at shops while cruising through collections, by overeager salesgirls is too much for her. How interesting! Her love for fashion doesn’t end with her wardrobe or indeed her past modelling days – she loves to exude that in her work in design too. Debbie has designed a jewellery collection for Daniela Villegas, consisting entirely of diamond rings and rain hats for Phillip Treacy.