PARIS — Services for Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the principal of the French winery Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux, France, have been scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sept. 1 at the Château Mouton.
De Rothschild died in Paris over the weekend following a long illness and “the effects of a serious operation,” the family said on Monday. She was 80, and is to be buried on her family’s property alongside her father, Baron Philippe.
A lively figure on the Paris and New York social scenes with a penchant for Pierre Cardin dresses and statement jewelry — one signature necklace featured an oversize grape made of a pearl — de Rothschild took over the family vineyard in 1988 upon the death of her father.
“With her energy, charisma and radiant personality, she considerably expanded the family company, both in France and elsewhere, and maintained the family’s estates at the highest level, the illustrious Château Mouton Rothschild foremost among them,” the family added.
The daughter of Lili and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, in a 1981 interview with WWD she recalled watching her mother being taken away by German soldiers to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she died. “It seems too romanesque now and many children suffered much more cruelly,” de Rothschild said, adding, “I tell you what this had done for me. It has made me so aware that whoever you are, nothing is certain.”
Before joining the vineyard, de Rothschild was a well-known actress who performed under the name Philippine Pascale and acted in La Comédie Française opposite the likes of Catherine Deneuve. She studied at the National School of Dramatic Arts, getting in at last after three years of trying. “I know I would have got in quicker if I had not been a Rothschild,” she said in the 1981 interview. “To a certain extent this talent is a gift and I had the same gift at 17 as I had at 20. I am not nasty and don’t understand people who are, but I can remember one columnist at the time who wrote ‘The Baroness Philippine de Rothschild wants to act. What an act!’”
She knew the types of roles she was suited for, saying, “I was never an ingenue. I didn’t have the innocence for it. I was always a woman,” adding that the roles she excelled at were “outspoken, funny, perhaps even fantasy ladies, like Roz Russell and Auntie Mame.”
Karl Lagerfeld recalled that the then-Pascale often played characters from simpler backgrounds, maids and the like. “She was so funny and witty,” said Lagerfeld. “I’ve known her since 1958,” he added, recalling that he met her at a wedding party at Maxim’s for Dior model Victoire Doutreleau.
“She had a great sense of humor and she was always very positive,” Lagerfeld said, noting de Rothschild showed great courage in her long battle with cancer.
Lagerfeld snapped one of the baroness’ favorite portraits, seated on a Zaha Hadid divan in front of a mural depicting a grape harvest.
“I remember her telling me, ‘Karl, please make me look like a woman who sells wine.’ Funny to say that, no?” Lagerfeld recalled.
He stopped short of calling her a fashion person, though she mingled in the milieu, noting she mostly wore very simple dresses. “Her personality was so strong, you really didn’t care about what she was wearing,” he said.
Former Yves Saint Laurent couture boss Pierre Bergé, who often had de Rothschild at his side for birthdays and other important rites of passage, took to Twitter to express his grief.
“It pains me greatly. We knew each other for so long,” he wrote, calling her “intelligent, loyal.”
“Some people pretend to like the theater, she really lived it,” he told WWD. “Philippine accompanied many theater stage directors such as Bob Wilson and Robert Carsen throughout their careers, helping them with the production. She saw every play, even if that involved commuting into Paris.”
Bergé recalled de Rothschild was also “a very, very old friend of Yves Saint Laurent” before he became head designer at Christian Dior in 1957.
He said he would remember his friend for her “love of art, creation, wine and friendship as well as her taste for happiness.”
Doris Brynner, head of Dior’s home furnishings and gift department, called Rothschild a dynamic woman with fantastic taste.
“She was so gregarious, full of beans and bright,” Brynner said. “She brought a modern touch to her labels.”
In particular, de Rothschild continued the winemaker’s tradition of enlisting famous artists to design the label for its vintages, having tapped everyone from Jeff Koons to Francis Bacon. In 2013, de Rothschild created a special department in the château’s museum documenting that work.
Having grown up at the famed château, de Rothschild was honest about its wines. “I like wine more and more,” she told WWD in the interview. “Our white Mouton Cadet is now quite good. It wasn’t at first. One must be able to criticize oneself.”
“Philippine was a passionate woman, with a great sense of imagination, very cultured and a loyal friend,” remembered Paris events manager Françoise Dumas, who collaborated with de Rothschild on many occasions since the two became acquainted in the Eighties, including the vineyard’s 150th anniversary in 2003.
Dumas called de Rothschild “irreplaceable,” given the number of charities she was involved in, contributing generously.
“She mastered the art of living and the art of reception in a marvelous fashion and it spilled over to her work,” Dumas said, citing de Rothschild’s support of the Fondation Claude Pompidou; Fondation Hôpitaux, presided over by her friend Bernadette Chirac; the Princess Grace Foundation, and Natalia Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation, along with the French National Library and liberal arts.
She leaves behind her husband, Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, and three children, Camille, Philippe and Julien.
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