Aga Khan’s Art Deco: Exhibitions by L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels to catch in Dubai

 

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Established in 2012 with the support of the Maison Van Cleef & Arpels, the aim of L’École Van Cleef & Arpels, is to share the jewelry culture to a large and varied audience, both in France and abroad. Through offering an a la carte program of courses, talks and exhibitions, accessible to everyone with no pre-requisites, L’École welcomes the public to learn about the savoir faire of jewelry-making techniques, the world of precious stones, and the art history of jewelry.

Every year, L’École travels to different destinations to meet its students and offer them, in their country, a complete set of courses, talks and exhibitions. Following a first trip in 2017, L’École returns to Dubaï.

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After a first exhibition at L’École in Paris in 2018, the Precious Art Deco Objects exhibition comes back to Dubai from March 29 to April 13, 2019. L’École Van Cleef & Arpels presents a selection of art objects from a remarkable collection of the Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan.

 

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The precious boxes that make up that collection were amassed for his wife, the Princess Catherine Aleya Beriketti, and represent incredible masterpieces of inventiveness, creativity, fantasy, skills and technical prowess.

 

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These precious objects, whose craftsmanship was as important as their function, were specially designed for the first wave of ‘liberated’ women in the 1920s: women who enjoyed going out, applied make-up in public, and kept track of their numerous social engagements with a watch or a clock.

L’École-Van-Cleef-&-Arpels-Visuel_3Cigarette cases, nécessaires (vanity cases), powder compacts and other precious objects in gold enriched in ornamental or precious stones, adorned with mother-of-pearl, lacquer or translucent enamel, sometimes enhanced with miniatures of Asian or Western inspiration, were presented for the first time in New York at the Cooper Hewitt Museum on the occasion of the exhibition ‘The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s’.

 

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At L’École Van Cleef & Arpels, they will be exhibited in a scenography highlighting the multiple Chinese, Japanese, Persian and European influences on these exceptional Art Deco objects.

March 29 to April 13, 2019

Hai d3 Dubai Design District
E11 – Dubai
Open daily to the public – Free access
9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Come into the beautiful and wonderful worlds of Van Cleef & Arpels and L’École Van Cleef & Arpels.

 

 

 

The lady of Yakymour

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Yvette Labrousse

Yvette ‘Yvonne’ Blanche Labrousse born in 1906, of a father who was a tramway driver and a town councillor for Le Cannet, and a mother who was a seamstress. Nothing in her modest upbringing told anything of the glorious destiny that was to be hers.

Today, 110 years ago, Yvette Labrousse was born Yvonne Blanch Labrousse in the small town of Sète, near Marseilles, France, on 15 February 1906. She was the daughter of Adrien Labrousse (October 25, 1874 – June 1, 1969) and Marie Brouet (December 26, 1870 – .. ) , a seamstress. When she was only six months old her family soon move to Cannes, where they lived in a flat in the Rue d’Antibes, and later on to Lyon where the young Yvette spent most of her childhood.

 

Yvonne Yvette Labrousse Om Habibeh Begum Aga Khan

Yvette Labrousse

Yvette grew up tall, more than six feet, and vèry beautiful. Having stricktly raised, however, she showed no disposition to accept the film and modelling offers that cameher way, instead, she went to work with her mother, who was running a dress shop that time. She always told that her parents were very warm, kind and always openminded.

 

Yvette Yvonne Blanche Labrousse Sète Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Le Cannet

Yvette Labrousse

After being elected Miss Lyon in 1929, at the age of twenty-four, then Miss France in Paris in 1930, she joined the Miss Europe 1930 pageant in Paris, at the Paris Opera. The streets outside the hall were packed with people eager to see the beautiful participants from all over Europe… It was one of the most talked about events in the press.

 

Miss France, Yvette Labrousse, Begum Um Habibeh Aga Khan

Miss France, Yvette Labrousse, was always full of great story’s about ‘her time’ as Miss France. Talking about the girls, the fashion of that time, the make-up and the travels.

 

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Yvette Labrousse, Paris, 1930’s

Yet Yvette Labrousse was no longer a provincial. As a beauty queen and a representatieve of France, she traveled to many countries around the world. She found herself particulary taken by Egypt and, in the late thirdies she moved to Egypt, she moved to Cairo and adopted the faith of Islam.

In Cairo, 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 when they met at a royal dancing party in Egypt in 1938. They married thirteen months after the Aga Khan III and his third wife were divorcedby mutual consent, on 9 October 1944 in Switzerland.

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III by Weinberg Picture FrameSir Sultan Mohamad Aga Khan III and Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan seated half-length portrait by Weinberg. Photograph signed and inscribed by Begum, “A souvenir – from an old friend – of the family Aga Khan”. Inscribed in the image, middle left and right. 8 1/2×6 1/2 inches; matted in original sterling silver frame bearing Khan’s emblem at top. Circa 1955

After her marriage she took the name of Om Habibeh (Little Mother of the Beloved) and became Begum, fully Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. Her husband playfully nicknamed her ‘Yaky’, which was composed from the initials of ‘Yvette’, ‘Aga’ and ‘Khan’. In 1954, Om Habibeh was given the title of ‘Mata Salamat’, which literally means serene or peaceful mother. She was the foutyh woman in Islamic history with that title during last 13 centuries.

I have at last been granted the real and wonderful haven of finding in and with my wife a true union of mind and soul

Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III, in his Memoirs ‘World Enough & Time’, page 275

They settled in the Avenue Victoria villa at Le Cannet, in the hills above Cannes, on a hillside wich she had once looked on to from the flat in the Rue d’Antibes, for which planning permission applications had been submitted in 1937. They named it Yakymour: Y for Yvette, ak for Aga Khan, mour for amour. The French word for love. As is clear from such indications , the couple was very close and the two loved each other dearly.

 

Yakymour

Yakymour, Le Cannet, France

Within this property surrounded by parkland, Her Higness La Bégum used to assemble the members of the Cannes film festival jury, and many national and international movie stars. Some of them became friends for live. 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, herself becoming an accomplished artist and sculptor. She was also interested in the arts including classical music, opera and ballet.

I always appreciated beauty, but he (the Aga Khan) taught me how really to enjoy a lovely sunset, moonlight, to know the stars, the colours and scents of flowers, to like music, ballet and opera, to appreciate everything that is beautiful in life.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

She rarely left his side, and nursed him devotedly through the pains of old age until his death in 1957. But her duty was also a delight. She never ceased to be grateful for the manner in which he had widened her horizons, especially in music and in the arts. “Enjoy yourself”, he told her. “It’s later then you think”.

 

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Shortly before his death, the Aga Khan III chose a location on the West Bank of the Nile as his final resting place. The location was highly symbolic, for centuries earlier the Aga Khan’s ancestors had founded the Fatimid dynasty with its capital in Cairo. The Fatimids represented one of the apogees of culture, being patrons of the arts, liteature, achitecture, pluralism (the acceptance of racial, ethnic, cultural and intra-religious differences) and scientific endeavors,  all fields that were equally dear to the Aga Khan III an Om Habibeh. The Begum was very supportive of her husband in his work during their thirteen years together. They both took a particular interest in issues affecting women’s welfare.

When her husband died in 1957, he had stated in his will that his successor, his grandson Karim, would have Om Habibeh as advisor for the first seven years of his reign. because she had been familiar for many years with the issues facing his followers and he had the confidence in her wise judgment. Immediatly, with the help of architect Farid El-Shafie and contractor Hassan Dorra, Om Habibeh started building at Aswan, on top of the hill above there house, a mausoleum to her husband, a task that took 16 months. “The Aga Khan wants to sleep in the hot sand overlooking the waters of the Nile”, Om Habibeh always said, “and when I die I want to lie beside him. We do not want to be parted”.

 

Begum Om HabibehAga Khan Yvette Labrouse Aswan

It was not in her nature either to forget, or to try to hide, her humble orgins. Her legacy remains in the Om Habibeh Foundation, whose programs have contributed to health, education and inclusion in some of the poorest areas of Egypt.

Her gesture of daily placing a red rose on her husband’s tomb while in Egypt (every day for 43 years, either the Begum or when she was away in Europe, Sheikh Ahmed Ibrahim, whom she hired in 1963 to spend eight hours a day chanting verses from the Koran over her late husband’s tomb, laid a fresh red rose there) enforced the reputation of the legendary romance between the Aga Khan III and Om Habibeh. After the death of her husband, she continued to live at Yakymour, though she always spent three months a year in the villa at Aswan, the site of her husband’s mausoleum.

As a widow, she travelled widely both for charity and for pleasure. She was a regular face at Ascot (she herself owned several horses), where she always caught the eye. In the 1950’s and 60’s she was a true fashion icon, and was a countless times on the cover of big magazines. Her advice on fashion was typically sensible: “Don’t choose what you like, but what suits you. To be elegant one must have discretion. The secret is in the details”. Often she was sitting front-row at the Paris fashion shows from Christian Dior, Lanvin, Jaques Faith and many others.

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan by Gyenes

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan by Gyenes

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. She had a big heart for everybody. Also for people outside the Shia Ismaili community. No matter what kind of religion, man or women, or even sexual oriantation, she was véry openminded, Yakymour and Nour el-Salam were both an open house.

We should take care of eachother, everybody should be loved!, we are here on earth to do good, and not to harm or judge people, so lets love.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Begum Om Habibeh also loved annimals a lot. Over the years she had several dogs and cats. “Every person and every animal should be loved, we are all creations from Allah. “When a person is not good for animals, he can not be good to humans”. “We should take care of eachother, everybody should be loved!, we are here on earth to do good, and not to harm or judge people, so lets love”…. And that’s what she did!

 

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Grandma ‘Yaky’, the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan with her poodles at Yakymour, Le Cannet, France, January 1, 1985 

Beauty was not only on the outside. It came from the heart. Highly popular, Her Highness La Bégum showed great generosity throughout her life. She made many donations to schools (‘education is the most impotant thing in life after being loved’ and ‘The highest result of education is tolerance’ she always said) and hospitals. But also donations to women’s shelters, Alzheimer foundation, and… Aids foundation.

The highest result of education is tolerance.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Over four decades of widowhood (she never thought of remarrying) she was always out in the community helping the poor and elderly and would relentlessly encourage education for women. For over forty years, banquets were offered to the town’s elderly inhabitants. The Begum also ran a charitable foundation, the Om Habibeh Foundation, which tackled poverty in Aswan, Egypt, where she inherited her husband’s villa by the Nile. At home in Le Cannet, she established a home for the elderly. It was not in her nature either to forget, or to try to hide, her humble origins. In the last years of her life, she made an outstanding donation to the town, enabling it to renew its school property.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan at Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers

Begum Om Habibeh, Le Cannet, Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers, Le Cannet, 1997

She also contributed to the creation of the Jardin des Oliviers, for which the town showed its gratitude by erecting a bronze statue by Charles-Louis La Salle, unveiled by the mayor of Le Cannet Rocheville, in her image. She last appeared in public for the inauguration of this garden in 1997. She was also vèry happy that she could be present at the wedding of Princess Zahra Aga Khan with the businessman Mark Boyden, June 21, 1997 in Paris.

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers Park

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers, bronze statue of Om Habibeh by Charles-Louis La Salle

Before her death, the late Begum arranged for Yakymour, the home of which she and her husband were so fond, to be retained for use by the Aga Khan family. She also planned that a large part of her estate be donated to two foundations closely associated with the family: The Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva, a non-profit organisation established by the current Aga Khan in 1967, which oversees and supports major international programmes in health, education and rural development, in some of the poorest regions of Asia and Africa, and the Bellerive Foundation in Geneva, established by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in 1977, which is devoted to the protection of the environment, conservation of natural resources and the safeguarding of human and animal rights.

There was no doubting her enduring devotion. “Now all I have left to hope for”, she said shortly before her death, “is that Allah will take me to his side”. Begum Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ aka Yvette Labrousse died on 1 July 2000, in Le Cannet, near Cannes, at the age of 94 years, and is buried next to her beloved husband at the Aga Khan’s sandstone mausoleum in Aswan. The couple had no children. She was survived by her stepson, Sadruddin Aga Khan, and three step-grandchildren, Karim Aga Khan the current Aga Khan, Amyn Aga Khan and Yasmin Aga Khan, who are the children of the late Prince Aly Khan, who died in 1960 and who was the eldest son of the late Aga Khan.

The jamat will recall with fondness and affection her support for the work of My late beloved grandfather, and also her devoted care and attention to Him particularly in the later years of His life. Throughout her lifetime Mata Salamat retained an abiding interest to the progress and well-being of the jamat world-wide

Mawlânâ Hazar Imam Karim Aga Khan IV

She has now been reunited with her husband, who has been resting, since 1957, in a mausoleum built on their Nour es-Salam property, near the river Nile, in Aswan, Egypt. ‘Till today she is very respected and loved. For her eternal love, her honesty, her help (she hated the word ‘charity’!) and being só openminded…..

by Jean Amr

 

 

 

 The Om Habibeh Foundation

The Om Habibeh Foundation was established by the Aga Khan’s late step-grandmother, Om Habibeh, the Begum Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. It is an Egyptian, not-for-profit organisation of long-standing that has been contributing to, and supporting, a number of institutions, in the Aswan area, which are involved in healthcare, education and income generation for disadvantaged communities. The Foundation draws on the support and technical expertise of the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network to advance the newly announced initiatives.

The Aga Khan Foundation

For more information:

Farees Nathoo
Aga Khan Foundation
Tel. +20 (22) 506 1570
Email: info@akdn.org

 

 

 

 

 

Bold cuffs take center stage.

Van Cleef & Arpels

As this summer statement jewelry continues to trend….

In a famous photo taken in 1977 at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan, the perennially stylish Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis can be seen arm-wrestling Muhammad Ali.  But it’s not the fashion icon’s toothy grin, or her off-the-shoulder gown, or her embellished earrings that stand out the most, it’s the hammered yellow gold Van Cleef & Arpels cuff on her wrist. The quintessential first lady so favored the piece of jewelry that she wore it throughout the 1970s and 1980s, igniting an unprecedented fervor for cuffs among fashion’s glitterati. It was not only Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that made the sales raise, also Princess Caroline of Monaco and other celebs did. When the Princess showed up with her Cartier Love Bracelet, sales went up…..

Rabinovich Bracelet Jumelle

I Love: Rabinovich, black leather, steel bracelet (Click photo to enlarge).

Rabinovich bracelet Jumelle

Rabinovich, purple leather, steel bracelet, availble in a lot of colors (Click photo to enlarge).

Bulgari bracelet sterling

Bvlgari, Sterling silver, Leather bracelet, availble in many colors (Click photo to enlarge).

Albanu Bracelet Horse Hair Sterling

A true timeless classic. Not only for horse lovers! Albanu bracelet made of horse hair and sterling silver. Availble in many colors, models and 18k gold (Click photo to enlarge).

Albanu Bracelet Elephant Hair 18k Yellow GoldPrince Bernard had one. Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan had one. Albanu, loved by many Royals and movie stars since 1928! Albanu bracelet made of elephant hair and 18k yellow gold. They are availble in a vèry large range of models (Click photo to enlarge).

Today cuffs are making a comeback in a variety of shapes and unique materials. Sometimes simple, sometimes precious. Basic wide styles can be worn on their own to create a more tailored, minimalistic look for work, while those with an experimental bent can mix and match skinnier versions. Add some instant edge to an outfit by rocking a double wrap leather cuff with oversized rivets and studded hardware, or up the ante by donning multiple metal bands in alternating widths on each wrist.

What some friends of mine have with shoes, I’ve got t with watches and bracelets! I realy love my Bvlgari Alveare and Parentesi, but my Cartier Love bracelet is my daily wear, that I many times combine with one of my Rabinovich leather bracelets. I’ve got many of them! They are vèry affordable, and vèry stong! Taking a shower with my Albanu, is no problem at all! I’ve got one that’s over 40 years old, and its still as new! Taking a shower with a leather bracelet is not the advice you would give someone, but my Rabinovich bracelets are still doing great, after 2 years of showering. And that for that price!

Tony Burch bracelet leather

Tory Burch double wrap logo stud bracelet in blood orange, other colors availble (Click photo to enlarge).

Tiffany Elsa Peretti Bone Sterling Bracelet

A true Tiffany & Co classic! Elsa Peretti’s Sterling Silver Bone Cuff bracelet. It’s also availble in 18k gold (Click photo to enlarge).

Tiffany-Co Paloma Picasso leather sterling

Tiffany & Co. Paloma Picasso’s knot bracelet in leather and sterling silver (Click photo to enlarge).

Hermes Black Leather Bracelets With Pink Gold Turn Buckle Wide

Hermès Black Leather Wide Bracelets with 18K Pink Gold Turn Buckle (Click photo to enlarge).

 

Bulgari Alveare Gold Bracelet

Bvlgari Alveare 18k Yellow and White Gold Bracelet (Click photo to enlarge).Van Cleef & Arpels Art Deco Bracelet Ruby Gold YellowVan Cleef & Arpels ‘Ludo’ Art Deco bracelet, Paris, 1939, yellow 18k gold, rubies and star rubies in mystery setting (Click photo to enlarge).

CARTIER Juste un Clou 18ct pink-gold bracelet

Cartier ‘Juste un Clou’ 18ct pink-gold bracelet, also availble in white and yellow gold, with or without diamonds or other precious stones (Click photo to enlarge).

Just remember to stick to the cardinal rule of accessorizing: Don’t overdo it. And, whether you select a classic leather cuff, bejeweled medallion or retro-inspired resin style, be sure to make a selection that speaks to you or evokes an emotion when you wear it.

For more information:

Albanu at selected stores. See http://http://www.albanu.mc

Bvlgari at Bvlgari Boutiques, online and at selected stores See: http://http://www.bulgari.com

Cartier at Cartier Boutiques, online and at selected stores. See: http://http://www.cartier.com

Van Cleef & Arpels at Van Cleef & Arpels Boutiques. See: http://http://www.vancleefarpels.com

Hermès at Hermès Boutiques, online and selected stores. See: http://http://www.hermes.com

Rabinovich at Jumelle Juwelier and other selected stores. See: http://www.jumelle.nl/

Tiffany & Co at Tiffany & Co Boutiques and selected stores. See: http://http://www.tiffany.com

Tory Burch at Tory Burch Boutiques. See: http://http://www.toryburch.com

by Jean Amr

Long Reign Ends

In the early afternoon of 11 July, 1957, after an Imamat spanning seventy-two years, the 48th Imam, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III, passed away in Geneva.

In a leading article published the following day, The Times of London offered condolences “to the millions distributed over the length and breadth of the Islamic world”, recognizing the Imam as “a great force working for understanding and harmony between east and west”; the obituary in The Times was titled: The Aga Khan: A Citizen of the World.

On July 12, 1957, the will of the 48th Imam was read at Villa Barakat in Geneva with the whole family present. In his will, the Imam stated:

I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my son, Aly Salomone Khan, to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to be the Imam and Pir of all my Shia Ismailian followers.

Assuan,_Aga_Khan_MausoleumThe Aga Khan III mausoleum in Aswan by the Nile. In the foreground is the villa, Noor al-Salaam (Click photo to enlarge).

Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah’s Burial in Aswan

Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah had expressed a wish to be buried in Aswan in Egypt. The Imam had a special place for Egypt ever since his first visit to the country in 1935. In his Memoirs, the Imam writes:

On my way home to India I visited Egypt for the first time. Those who have not experienced it, who have not been lucky enough to fall under Egypt’s spell, will find it difficult, I suppose, to realize the sheer magic of the first sight of Egypt. And that my first sight was on a perfect early winter day, and need I say that all my life since then I have had a special corner in my heart for Egypt, and that I have returned there as often as I could.

ak-iii-mata-salamatSir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III and Begum Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ Aga Khan (Click photo to enlarge).

In an interview with the Al-Ahram Weekly (23-29 April, 1992), Mata Salamat, the Begum Om Habibah explained the choice of Aswan:

“…We had been coming here since 1935, when the place was not a touristic location at all but a health retreat and resort. We used to come for one or two months and stay at the Cataract Hotel and have lovely promenades on the Nile. We did not come to be cured of asthma or such things, it was just to enjoy the good weather and good air of Aswan”.

“During these visits to the hotel, one day my husband said: ‘I would like to be buried in Aswan”.

“He used to say ‘Egypt is the flag of Islam.’ And he wanted to be buried here. Then we looked around and one day while on the Nile in a felucca with the Director, who said: ‘But why do you insist on finding somewhere to be buried? You see that house?’ It was absolutely closed and neglected. ‘It is on sale. Why don’t you buy it and enjoy yourself here?’ My husband replied: ‘But I agree. Provided I have the permission to build a mausoleum behind.’ And we bought it”.

The villa was named Noor al-Salaam.

“He put the house entirely in my hands saying: ‘You will choose the mausoleum. The style and everything else – do as you like. I want to be buried here”.

The Begum Describes the Task of Building the Mausoleum

“Now building the mausoleum was a great task for me. I was not sure of which style. But my husband had told me to see one of his friends at the American University, a British professor specializing in Islamic architecture. He took me all over Cairo and finally I made my choice, but if you see what I chose to copy, what inspired me, you may not see a resemblance.”

“It is the Al-Juyushi mosque. It is Fatimid and that is why I chose it; the piece that inspired me the most was the mihrab.”

“And something that maybe nobody knows is that this monument was made entirely by hand. Most of the marble is carved from one piece. It is the only thing, coming from abroad Carara marble, a very special and rare pure kind of Carara. The remainder, granite and sandstone from Aswan”.

First Burial Ceremony at Aswan in July 1957

On July 19, 1957, the Imam was laid to rest in a temporary place created in the grounds of the villa. A special service was held at a mosque in Aswan attended by Prince Aly Khan, Prince Sadruddin, Prince Amyn and the newly-appointed Imam, Shah Karim.

The Final Burial Ceremony at Aswan in the Mausoleum in February 1959

On 19 February 1959, the 48th Imam was finally laid to rest in the mausoleum which had taken over 18 months to construct. A special tent was raised on the outskirts of Aswan and more than 2,500 people, including Ismailis from all parts of the world, attended the ceremony.

aga-khan-iii-noor-salaamFebruary 1959: The villa, ‘Noor al-alaam’, Aswan, where the body of the 48th Imam lay temporarily buried before it was moved to its final resting place in the mausoleum (Photo privat collection © Motani Collection, Ottawa) (Click photo to enlarge).

aga-khan-iii-funeral-21February 1959: The Aga Khan’s body being carried by Karim Aga Khan and Sadruddin Aga Khan from the villa ‘Noor al Salaam’ to its final resting place (Photo privat collection © Motani Collection, Ottawa) (Click photo to enlarge).

Begum Om abibeh Aga Khan AswanFebruary 1959: Like the men, all dressed in white, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, followed by group of women, walking from the villa ‘Noor al Salaam’ following her husbands to his last resting place (Photo privat collection).

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Aswan

February 1959: Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, followed by group of women, walking from the villa ‘Noor al Salaam’ to up the mausoleum (Photo privat collection).

aga-khan-iii-aswan-family-walkingFebruary 1959: Prince Sadruddin and Prince Amyn walking back to the villa ‘Noor al Salaam’, behind Prince Karim Aga Khan, successor to Aga Khan III (Photo privat collection © Motani Collection, Ottawa) (Click photo to enlarge).

aga-khan-iii-funeral-hi-ps-pa

February 1959: The 49th Imam, Shah Karim Aga Khan IV, is followed by his uncle, Prince Sadruddin (on left), and Prince Amyn (on right) at Aswan (Photo: Jehangir Merchant collection) (Click photo to enlarge).

by Jean Amr

A family gatering at Yakymour

A family portrait

April 1, 1949 a family gathering in the soucth of France at Yakymour, Le Cannet. The whole family together at the house of Sultan Mohammed Aga Khan III and his wife The Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III, his childern Sadruddin and Aly Aga Khan with his wife Rita Hayworth. His grandchildern Amyn Aga Khan and Karim Aga Khan.

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From left to right: Begum Om Habibeh Aha Khan III, Amyn Aga Khan, Sadruddin Aga Khan, Aly Aga Khan, Karim Aga Khan. Sitting: Sultan Mohammed Aga Khan III and Rita Hayworth at Yakymour, Le Cannet, France, April 1, 1949

(click to enlarge photo).

by Jean Amr

Yakymour: A place of fashion, beauté, art, flowers, beauty and… love!

 

YakymourYakymour, Le Cannet, France

Playing as a child in the garden of Yakymour. A happy, innocent time, thanx to ‘Grandma’ Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ Aga Khan and to Sadruddin, where I could be fully myself and forget ‘the bad things’, and get some strenght

Yakymour, the house of the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. She was born Yvette Blanche Labrousse in 1906, of a father who was a tramway driver and a town councillor for Le Cannet and a mother who was a seamstress. Nothing in her modest upbringing told anything of the glorious destiny that was to be hers. After bieng elected Miss Lyon in 1929, then Miss France in Paris in 1930, she joined the Miss Europe 1930 pageant in Paris, won by Miss Greece. She started to travel around the world and settled in Egypt.

 

Yakimour1-1

Yakymour, in her own handwriting, on the wall next to the gate of her home.

There Yvette Labrousse met her future husband, the Sultan Aga Khan III, 48th Imam of the Nizari Shia Ismaili community, whom she married on 9 October 1944 in Switzerland, and took the name of Om Habibeh (Little Mother of the Beloved) and became Begum, fully Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. In 1954, Om Habibeh was given the title of ‘Mata Salamat’, which literally means serene or peaceful mother. She was the foutyh womn in Islamic history with that title! They settled in the Avenue Victoria villa at Le Cannet, above Cannes, on a hillside wich she had once looked on to from the flat in the Rue d’Antibes, for which planning permission applications had been submitted in 1937.

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan by Gyenes

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III

They named it Yakymour: Y for Yvette, ak for Aga Khan, mour for amour. Within this property surrounded by parkland, Her Higness La Bégum used to assemble the members of the Cannes film festival jury. When her husband died in 1957, he had stated in his will that his successor, his grandson Karim, would have Om Habibeh as advisor for the first seven years of his reign. Om Habibeh started building at Aswan, on top of the hill above there house, a mausoleum to her husband, immediately after his death, while finishing it took 16 months.

Her gesture of daily placing a red rose on her husband’s tomb while in Egypt (every day for 43 years, either the Begum or when she was away in Europe, Sheikh Ahmed Ibrahim, whom she hired in 1963 to spend eight hours a day chanting verses from the Koran over her late husband’s tomb, laid a fresh red rose there) enforced the reputation of the legendary romance between the Aga Khan III and Om Habebeh. After the death of her husband, she continued to live at Yakymour, though she always spent three months a year in the villa at Aswan, the site of her husband’s mausoleum.

France, Le Cannet, Yakymour

Yakymour, Le Cannet, France

As a widow, she travelled widely both for charity and for pleasure. She was a regular face at Ascot (she herself owned several horses), where she always caught the eye. In the 1950’s and 60’s she was a true fashion icon, and was a countless times on the cover of big magazines. Her advice on fashion was typically sensible: “Don’t choose what you like, but what suits you. To be elegant one must have discretion. The secret is in the details”. 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. She had a big heart for everybody. Also for people outside the Shia Ismaili community. No matter what kind of religion, man or women, or even sexual oriantation, she was véry openminded, Yakymour was an open house.

She also loved annimals a lot. Over the years she had several dogs and cats. ‘Every person and every animal should be loved, we are all creations from Allah. When a person is not good for animals, he can not be good to humans’. ‘We should take care of eachother, everybody should be loved!, We are here on earth to do good, and not to harm or judge people, so lets love’…. And that’s what she did!

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III

Beauty was not only on the outside. It came from the heart. Highly popular, Her Highness La Bégum showed great generosity throughout her life. She made many donations to schools (‘education is the most impotant thing in life after being loved’ and ‘The highest result of education is tolerance’ she always said) and hospitals. But also donations to women’s shelters, Alzheimer foundation, and… Aids foundation.

For over forty years, banquets were offered to the town’s elderly inhabitants. The Begum also ran a charitable foundation (Om Habibeh Foundation) which tackled poverty in Aswan, Egypt, where she inherited her husband’s villa by the Nile. At home in Cannes, she established a home for the elderly. It was not in her nature either to forget, or to try to hide, her humble origins. In the last years of her life, she made an outstanding donation to the town, enabling it to renew its school property. She also contributed to the creation of the Jardin des Oliviers, for which the town showed its gratitude by erecting a bronze statue by Charles-Louis La Salle, in her image. She last appeared in public for the inauguration of this garden in 1997

But there was no doubting her enduring devotion. “Now all I have left to hope for”, she said shortly before her death, is that Allah will take me to his side”. Begum Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ aka Yvette Labrousse died on 1 July 2000, in Le Cannet, near Cannes, at the age of 94 years, and is buried next to her beloved husband at the Aga Khan’s sandstone mausoleum in Aswan. The couple had no children. She was survived by her stepson, Sadruddin Aga Khan, and three step-grandchildren, Karim Aga Khan the current Aga Khan, Amyn Aga Khan and Yasmin Aga Khan. She has now been reunited with her husband, who has been resting, since 1957, in a mausoleum built on their Nour es-Salam property, near the River Nile, in Aswan, Egypt. ‘Till today she is very respected and loved. For her eternal love, her honesty, her help (she hated the word ‘charity’!) and being só openminded…..

Om Habibeh, ‘Yaky’ I love you! Thanx for everything you showed me and teached me! Love always!

Jean Amr