Frazier History Museum

Magnificent Mona Bismarck

The Frazier History Museum is pleased to present a most ambitious retrospective on the style and grace of Mona Bismarck, an extraordinary beauty that surrounded herself with exquisite belongings, lavish gardens and devoted, lifelong friends. Born in Louisville Kentucky in 1897, Mona married five times - her marriages propelling her steadily upwards in international society. Her third marriage in 1926 to Harrison Williams, the richest man in America, gave her the platform that secured her place as the worlds first fashion icon.

Famous for her trademark silver hair, aquamarine eyes and uncompromising sense of fashion, Mona was the first American to be declared the Best-Dressed Woman in the World in 1933, a distinction bestowed upon her by luminaries from the world of haute couture. She was mentioned in movies, lyrics and alluded to in books. One of the most photographed socialites in her day, this show will feature extensive images, commissioned by Vogue from photographers of note, Steichen, Horst and her dear friend, Cecil Beaton and personal portraits by artist Salvador Dali and Savely Sorine, that hung in Mona’s superb homes throughout the world.

The show will span five decades of Mona’s personal couture beginning in her Golden Years of the 1930s and concluding in the 1970s upon her retirement from the public spotlight. With many pieces never before viewed by the public, this important show will focus on Mona’s intimate collaboration with Cristobal Balenciaga, the designer that best defined her impeccable persona as well as Madeleine Vionnet, Hubert de Givenchy – and her fine jewelry by Belperron and Verdura. To this day, Mona’s 100-carat Cartier “Bismarck Sapphire” is on prominent display at the American Museum of Natural History.

As a gift to Louisville, Mona generously gave her lifetime of correspondence to the Filson Historical Society. A treasure trove of humor and loving sentiment from a cast of notorious characters; The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy, Diana Vreeland, Marlene Deitrich, Gore Vidal and Elsie de Wolfe, to name but a few, most of whom would remain constant throughout her magnificent life.