After being elected Miss Lyon in 1929, then Miss France in Paris in 1930, beauty queen and a representatieve of France, Yvette Labrousse traveled to many countries around the world. She found herself particulary taken by Egypt and, in the late thirdies she moved to Egypt. There Yvette Labrousse met her future husband, the Sultan Aga Khan III, 48th Imam of the Nizari Shia Ismaili community, and they fell in love at first sight and married on 9 October 1944 in Switzerland. Then she took the name of Om Habibeh (Little Mother of the Beloved) and became Begum, fully Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan.
They settled in the Avenue Victoria villa ‘Yakymour‘ at Le Cannet, in the hills above Cannes. Her Higness La Bégum, who was nterested in the arts including classical music, opera and ballet, used to assemble the members of the Cannes film festival jury, and many national and international artists and movie stars. Some of them became friends for live. Like Kees van Dongen, Jean Cocteau, Sophia Loren, Maurice Chevalier, Gina Lollobrigida and Marlene Dietrich
Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and painter Kees van Dongen. She wasn’t only Kees van Dongen’s muse, but with her husband’s encouragement, she also developed an active interest in painting and sculpture. Kees van Dongen made several portraits of Begum Om Habibeh and her husband.
Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan had a big heart for everybody. Also for people outside the Shia Ismaili community. She was dearly loved by her people because of her generosity to the poor, childern, women and the elderly, and, by her own husband as well. No matter what kind of religion, man or women, or even sexual oriantation, she was véry openminded and loyal. Yakymour and Nour el-Salam her home in Egypt, were both an open house.
Her Highness The Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and Jean Cocteau take part in la Bataille des Fleurs at la Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes on May 3, 1954. Her Highness The Begum Om Habibeh had a special relation with Jean Cocteau and his partner Jean Marais. They visit eachother often, and had a special and deep frienship.
Marlene Dietrich, Jean Cocteau and Her Highness The Begum Aga Khan III attend the dress rehearsal of Gilbert Bécaud’s ‘L’Opéra d’Aran’ at le Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris on October 26, 1962 (Click photo to enlarge).