Aimée de Heeren, born Aimée Soto-Maior de Sá or Aimée de Sotomayor[1] (3 August 1903 – 13 September 2006)[2] was a Brazilian socialite. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1996.[3][4]

She was the sister of Vera de Sa Sottomaior, who had been married to John Felix Charles "Ivor" Bryce, Randal Plunkett, 19th Baron of Dunsany and Sir Walter Frederic Pretyman. Through her sister, she is the aunt of the 20th Lord Dunsany.[5]

Early years

Aimée de Heeren was born in Castro, Paraná. She was the daughter of Genésio de Sá Soutomayor and Julieta Sampaio Quentel.

In the late 1920s, she met American inventor Thomas Edison.[6]

Rio de Janeiro

Vargas (left) with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (right), in Rio de Janeiro, 1936.

In the 1930s, she moved to Rio de Janeiro, where she married Luis Simões Lopes, chief of staff of President Getúlio Vargas. According to rumours, de Heeren was the mistress of the officially married President,[7] and lived at the Catete Palace, the seat of the President of Brazil. De Heeren never admitted to nor denied being his mistress.

Decades after the Vargas' death in 1954, his secret diary was published with multiple references to his "bem-amada" (English: "beloved"). Some historians believe that the "bem-amada" was Aimée de Heeren.[8][9][10][11]

Exile in Paris

In 1938, she was exiled from Brazil and emigrated to France. In Paris, she met the fashion designer Coco Chanel, with whom she was seen at many receptions, including the two Circus Bal receptions given by Elsie de Wolfe.[12][13] Chanel and Aimée de Heeren remained close friends, particularly towards the end of Chanel's life.[14]

According to the US Vogue editor Bettina Ballard, Aimée de Heeren—at the time called Aimée Lopez or Aimée Lopez de Sotto Major—made a huge impact on French society.

I particularly remember the season when Aimee was lionized in Paris. She was so pretty, so genuinely nice, carried gaiety with her like a fan, and she was almost eaten alive. Hung with diamonds, she was pushed from fittings to balls, never allowed a moment for private conquest because every hostess needed her for her party to prove that she could draw the lioness of the season. Aimee just wanted to dance and flirt and have fun. That wasn't what Paris expected of her.

— Bettina Ballard[15]

She was a regular at the 5-star Hôtel Meurice in Paris, where she met the German lawyer and resistance fighter Helmuth James Graf von Moltke.[16]

Exile in New York

Due to the Nazi occupation of France, she was forced to emigrate to the U.S., where she fell in love with Joseph P. Kennedy Jr, the oldest of the Kennedy brothers.[citation needed] Her friendship with the Kennedy family lasted until her death. She later married the Spanish-American Rodman Heeren, grandson of Antonio Heeren, 1st Count of Heeren, and great-grandson of John Wanamaker, the founder of the Wanamaker Department Stores. They had homes in Paris, New York City, Palm Beach, Florida and Biarritz, but never stayed in one location very long.[1]The couple had one daughter: Cristina Heeren y Sá de Sotomayor, 5th Countess of Heeren.

Several times, de Heeren was in the list of best dressed women in the world, and a 1941 edition of Time magazine included her in a list of "Ten Best Dressed Woman in the World".[17] She was mentioned in magazines such as Vogue.[18]


Over the decades she was invited to many high-profile weddings and events of royalty and the political and Hollywood elite, including:

She was also invited to various state receptions in the Élysée Palace by Vincent Auriol, Charles de Gaulle, Claude Pompidou, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, and numerous galas in Paris and Versailles by Baron Alexis de Redé, including at the Hotel Lambert and the Palace of Versailles.

Later years

She took online courses at the Crèmerie de Paris.[19] In 2005, at the age of 102, she traveled to Belgrade to attend the 60th birthday of Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, at the White Palace.[citation needed] She died the following year, in New York City at the age of 103.

According to the phone book of Biarritz, she used to swim in the Atlantic every day she was in town until the age of 102 years.[20]


  1. ^ a b Rasponi, Lanfranco (1968). The golden oases. Putnam. p. 189. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Paid Notice: Deaths HEEREN, AIMEE DE SA SOTTOMAIOR
  3. ^ Vanity Fair Best dressed list
  4. ^ Ultimate Style – The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. p. 160. ISBN 2 84323 513 8. 
  5. ^ "Person Page 9125". The Peerage. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Charlie Scheips, Elsie de Wolfe's Paris - frivolity before the storm, New York, Abrams Books, 2014, 159 pages, citation and photo on page 129
  7. ^ Morais, Fernando (1994). Chatô, o rei do Brasil. Companhia das Letras. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Portuguese review on President Vargas Diary
  9. ^ Portuguese article in Terra
  10. ^ Portuguese article in Istoe
  11. ^ Portuguese article in Marie Claire
  12. ^ Charlie Scheips, Elsie de Wolfe's Paris - frivolity before the storm, New York, Abrams Books, 2014, 159 pages, page 69
  13. ^ PDF file of the Book Elsie de Wolfe's Paris
  14. ^ Coco Chanel and Aimée de Heeren, history of the Cremerie de Paris
  15. ^ Bettina Ballard In my fashion – memories, New York, David Mckay Co, 1960, 312 pages
  16. ^ The spectator. F.C. Westley. 1 January 2004. p. 44. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Aimée de Heeren". New York Social Diary. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Vogue. Condé Nast Publications. April 1998. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  19. ^ History of the Cybercafe de Paris (written in French) with pictures of Aimée de Heeren taking internet lessons when she was already over a 100.
  20. ^ Phone Book of Biarritz mentioning the 2 Queens of Biarritz, Aimée de Heeren and the Empress Eugenie

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