Diane de Beauvau-Craon was born twice.
The first, on August 20, 1955, when her mother, the Spanish aristocrat María Cristina Patiño y Borbón, gave birth at the Belvédère clinic, a luxurious maternity hospital on the outskirts of Paris.
The second, on November 7, 2001, when doctors at the Cochin Hospital in the French capital saved her from almost certain death.
The princess herself entered unconscious and weighing just 32 kilos, consumed by drugs and alcohol.
“That day I was born again,” she says on the other end of the phone from the bedroom of her home in Naples, a villa with views of Vesuvius.
Her voice, rough from years of cigarettes, doesn't match her figure.
She has an almost brittle body, but she is brimming with vitality.
While talking, the Franco-Spanish aristocrat packs her bags to spend a few days in her Paris apartment and then in her other refuge, a chalet near Gstaad, in the Swiss Alps.
In photographs, she has an air of Nancy Cunard, the tragic muse of surrealism:
hair , slightly cat-like eyes, red lips, wrists adorned with many bracelets, and an elegant and eccentric manner.
Like Cunard, she has had a life of privilege, singular and frenetic.
Beauvau-Craon grew up in her family's luxurious duplex on the avenue de Foch in Paris, with neighbors like the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis;
de Haroué, a castle in the Lorraine region, and Quinta Patiño, his maternal grandfather's estate in Alcoitão (Portugal).
However, he never felt that those places were home to him.
In 1973, at the age of 18, she moved to New York and became one of the city's fashionable girls: consultant to designer Roy Halston, muse to artist Andy Warhol, friend of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and party partner of Bianca Jagger. and Margaux Hemingway at the Studio 54 disco.
“My parents were very unhappy during the time they were together.
They got married to keep their families happy, but they never loved each other.
They separated when I was two years old.
So from a very young age it was clear to me that I did not want to live like them, ”she explains.
Her father was Prince Marc de Beauvau-Craon, a friend of Charles de Gaulle and a Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honor.
Her mother was the daughter of the Bolivian magnate Antenor Patiño, nicknamed
The King of Tin.
, and the Duchess of Dúrcal, a cousin of King Alfonso XIII.
“I was educated in the best boarding schools.
I was supposed to marry a man with an illustrious last name, have children, and lead a boring life.
But at 12 or 13 I knew that none of that would make me happy,” she says with stunning clarity, as she is heard lighting a cigarette.
“He is the only vice that I maintain”, she clarifies, before resuming the story of her life.
This summer he has published his memoirs in France,
In Spanish, the title could be translated as "never have to surrender."
It is a nod to his family motto, the Beauvau-Craon, a dynasty with more than 500 years of history.
But that idea also defines his way of being.
Diane de Beauvau-Craon, pictured in her youth. Personal archive of Diane de Beauvau
A platonic romance freed her from the conventional, bourgeois fate her family had planned for her.
In 1973, her friend Thierry Beherman, a member of a wealthy Belgian industrial saga, proposed to her and she accepted.
“Thierry was handsome, intelligent, eccentric… and gay.
I only liked gays and he was very much in love with my androgynous physique.
He told me that he had the face of a fagot and the body of a woman, ”she admits, before starting to laugh.
“I have always liked homosexuals more than heterosexuals.
To this day.
I feel closer to them mentally and physically and they make me feel special.
When I was young, straight men scared me.
And they thought I was crazy.
Gays, on the other hand, saw me as a little sister, or as a brother.
They understood me, and I them."
The Beauvau-Craons welcomed the engagement news and treated the couple to a trip to New York.
At the age of 18, Diane and her fiancée settled in a hotel on the Upper East Side, in a suite overlooking the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
But the wedding never took place.
The Belgian heir returned to Europe, and she stayed in Manhattan.
At a party she met Roy Halston, who was then one of America's most famous designers.
Desperate to find a reason not to return to Paris, she asked him for a job.
And he, seduced by the idea of having an aristocrat on the payroll, agreed.
“I like the original way you wear clothes.
You will give me your opinion about my collections…”, she recalls that the dressmaker sentenced, offering her a contract as an adviser.
Diane started her working life getting paid “in kind”.
"He didn't pay me.
but he gave me jewelry by Elsa Peretti [designer for Tiffany & Co.].
A real salary would have made me feel like a prisoner.
The idea of getting paid with jewelery multiplied my desire to work with him 10 times”.
Halston celebrated the signing with a dinner where he brought together his friends: Mick and Bianca Jagger, Joe Uller, Elsa Peretti, Fred Hughes and Andy Warhol.
That night, the pop artist gave Beauvau a new title: "The
Her last name was too long and complicated for an American to pronounce.
However, her name was soon on everyone's lips in New York.
Warhol became fascinated with her ambiguous image of her and adopted her as her ward.
“Andy was one of my best friends.
He saw my innocence and took care of me.
He was aware of my fragility and that is why he was very protective of me.
He used to escort me to my house.
He would put me in bed and say goodnight to me,” she recalls.
Together with Bianca Jagger, wife of Mick Jagger, and the artist Andy Warhol, photographed by Bob Colacello in New York in 1980.Bob Colacello (Vito Schnabel Gallery)
In November 1977, Diane was featured in
, the Warholian magazine and official newsletter of the Factory.
Christopher Makos did the cover photography and Warhol himself retouched the image.
It is the only
in which the pop artist personally intervened in the history of the publication.
Inside the issue was an extensive interview with the princess and black-and-white photos of her taken by a young Robert Mapplethorpe.
The photographer and the model understood each other from the first minute.
"Then my life in New York became a dream," he admits.
She spent her days working with Halston and her nights partying with Warhol and his gang.
Sometimes she accompanied Mapplethorpe to the Mineshaft, the city's most famous sadomasochistic club, in New York's Meatpacking district.
It was a dark place that she accessed under a pseudonym.
Customers were dressed as policemen, cowboys or bricklayers.
“I used to be the only woman on those sites and that pleased me.
As she told you before, I've always been more comfortable around gays than women.
I don't understand women or they don't understand me.
They hate me or reproach me for my freedom, ”she says.
She came to live for a while in the
“They were three months of absolute happiness.
We were like brother and sister, or like two brothers.”
Their cohabitation ended when she began dating director Oliver Stone and Mapplethorpe became jealous.
The princess remembers those years as an endless party laced with cocaine and white wine to “keep up”.
It was the days of the Studio 54 disco and a new white pill called
a sedative-hypnotic similar to barbiturates.
“I only had one problem.
The next day, we remembered little or nothing of what we had done the night before," he admits over the phone.
He has no problem talking about his old addictions.
He started taking drugs at the age of 12.
The first substance she consumed was trichlorethylene, a spot-cleaning solvent.
Every time he used it in his craft games, the air in his children's room was filled with a pleasant smell that made him “turn his head”.
When they discovered her, she began a tour of various clinics in France and Switzerland.
"But the damage was done.
She had tried drugs and I really liked them”, she recounts.
At the 'château' de Haroué, her family's historic castle in the Lorraine region. Diane de Beauvau's personal archive
At the age of 15, while alternating between hospitals and Swiss boarding schools, he tried acid and cocaine.
"My goal then was not to destroy myself, but to have fun and live dangerous experiences," he explains over the phone.
“I have never considered myself a self-destructive person.
I am passionate about life.
But I enjoy seeing how far I can go."
He spent part of his adolescence in the Garches hospital, pompously named Château de Garches, a mental institution run by a doctor “more sadistic than medical”.
There she was subjected to electroshock therapy, a practice that the World Health Organization described in 2016 as a form of torture.
She blames her mother for that chapter of her life.
“She never took care of us.
I didn't know her and that's why I can't judge her.
Although I suppose that she could have saved herself from having children ”.
In Garches they tried to convince her that she was crazy.
Actually, all her life they wanted to put that idea in her head.
“Everyone told me that she was crazy, but I thought: 'Thank God I'm not like them.'
She was just young and innocent."
In the crazy New York of the seventies she found her place in the world.
“Halston was charming.
I saw the TV series about him [starring Ewan McGregor and directed by Ryan Murphy] and had to leave it for the third episode.
He was not like that.
He was beautiful, generous and gigantically talented,” he says.
It is the only moment of the interview in which she is heard upset, indignant.
“Unfortunately, people don't understand what life was like in the 1970s and 1980s.
Taking drugs and drinking was normal.
There is no more freedom.
Now you must be very careful with everything you say and do.
The princess, along with Andy Warhol and Steve Rubell, at Studio 54, the fashionable disco in New York in the 1970s. Diane de Beauvau's personal archive
Diane has always run from convention.
On her 21st birthday, she left her job with Halston and launched her own clothing brand.
All of New York attended her designer debut: Truman Capote, Diana Vreeland, Andy Warhol, Bob Colacello, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, Margaux Hemingway, Timothy Leary, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Lee Radziwill, Cristina Onassis, Nan Kempner, Steve Rubell , Ian Schrager.
Halston didn't show up, but she did send him a bouquet of flowers with a loving note wishing him the best of luck.
The collection was a disaster.
That was her first and last
show of hers.
Overwhelmed by failure, she escaped to Morocco.
In Tangier she met Ahmed Mohamadialal, a seductive Paris-educated Moroccan revolutionary and friend of Bernard-Henri Lévy, Jean-Paul Enthoven and Gilles Hertzog.
Soon after, she became pregnant by him, married, and converted to Islam.
“My happiness was short-lived.
Ahmed changed radically.
In his mind, he believed that I belonged to him for having married us and for having adopted his religion.
In her memories, she reveals that one day in April 1980, after giving birth to her son, she suffered an episode of sexist violence at the hands of her husband.
After this incident, she fled the country with the help of Lalla Aïcha, sister of the Moroccan king, and it took her five years to get her child back from her.
The aristocrat and fashion editor André Leon Talley, in New York in the 1970s. Personal archive of Diane de Beauvau
After returning to Paris, he began working for the dressmaker Hubert de Givenchy.
She never hit it off with the designer, who ended up firing her after missing a show for partying with Eric Clapton's bassist.
So, she began a relationship with the handsome
Jacques de Bascher, boyfriend of Karl Lagerfeld.
The dressmaker gave his blessing to that polyamorous relationship.
“Karl was never in love with me and I was never in love with him.
The priority of both was to love Jacques.
For us it was a very normal situation, ”he clarifies.
The first year was "idyllic", the complicity between the three of them was "wonderful".
“I accepted Jacques's homosexuality with joy and amusement.
I never felt jealous of his gay relationships because I knew he couldn't give her what a man gave her.
He did not consider them infidelities.
And I found in Karl a most lenient paternal protection.
I learned a lot from him."
Jacques was a free soul.
And Diane believed that she was, too.
But after a year she realized that he was just as jealous as the other men she had come across in her life.
And they broke up.
In 1986 Bascher was diagnosed with AIDS and they resumed their friendship.
Three years later, the most famous
in Paris died in her and Lagerfeld's arms in a hospital in the French capital.
“He wanted it that way,” she says.
“It was the most beautiful sentimental relationship I have ever had.
I was in love with him and he was in love with me.
I was the only woman in his life ”.
Diane and Lagerfeld remained great friends.
"Jacques' death brought us together a lot," she admits on the other end of the phone.
“I suffered a lot from that loss.
For a while I felt like a survivor and I kept asking myself the same question: 'Why wasn't it my turn?'
I have lost too many friends."
Warhol, Halston, Mapplethorpe... The last one was Lagerfeld, who passed away in February 2019. The princess remained by the side of the "kaiser of fashion" until her death.
“Someone recently told me that they should put up a monument to me.
I did a lot of drugs, I drank a lot of alcohol, I slept with a lot of gays and I'm still here.
I am the last of a species."
At a party at La Vigie, the mansion of his great friend, the designer Karl Lagerfeld, in Monaco.
In the image, Diane chats animatedly with Princess Caroline of Monaco and Gilles Dufour, Lagerfeld's right-hand man at the 'maison' Chanel. Personal archive of Diane de Beauvau
Now, at 67, Diane de Beauvau-Craon leads a peaceful life between her Neapolitan villa, her Parisian apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and her Swiss chalet.
She is married and has not drunk alcohol or used drugs for two decades.
“When she was high or drunk she couldn't read a book because she didn't understand a single sentence.
She couldn't go to a museum either because she saw everything triple.
Now I lead the normal life that I did not have when I was young.
I have a husband that I love and a simple existence, befitting a person my age,” she says.
“I had fun like nobody else, I met very interesting people and, when my body said enough, I stopped.
As I say in my book, I learned to destroy myself for pleasure and to rebuild myself for love”.