Her Highness The Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III and Maurice Chevalier arrive at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées where Maria Callas sang that evening for the second time before the Parisian public for the benefit of the Order of Knights of Malta in June of 1963
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).
Charles Kiffer grew up in an artistic environment. His father had as a tailor, many famous artists as customer. His mother was a piano teacher. As a child he made drawings and caricatures of the friends and acquaintances of his parents. In 1918, Kiffer admitted to the École Supérieure des Beaux Artes, where he focused on painting. A drawing he made of Maurice Chevalier went so well, that he was commissioned to create posters for his shows. Kiffer was apart from painter and designer of posters also an accomplished graphic artist. From 1929 he produced his own lithographs.
Begum Andrée Joséphine Carron Aga Khan by Charles Kiffer, Cartier Art Deco pendulettes (from privat collection), flowers from Bloom Flower Studio
Maurice Chevalier continued to remain faithful to him, and gave him his ’till the 1960’s commands for posters. Also many other greats knew where to find Kiffer, Brigit Bardot, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, George Guétary, Charles Trenet, Josephine Baker, Andrée Joséphine Carron Aga Khan, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, Gilbert Bécaud and Marcel Marceau – There was almost no French celebrity who does not accept to be immortalized by Charles Kiffer, during his long life. Charles Kiffer died on 20 January 1992 in Paris.