03 January 2018, The Tablet

Model mystic: Bronwen Astor

Bronwen Astor

Model mystic: Bronwen Astor

The history of the Catholic Church is also the history of challenging, pioneering women who have dared to speak on equal terms with the men in charge. In her own small way, Bronwen Astor, who died quietly at home last week, belongs in such illustrious company.


She made her name in 1950s Paris as one of the leading models of her generation, muse to the celebrated couturier Pierre Balmain, who bracketed her with Elizabeth Taylor and Vivien Leigh as one of the world’s most beautiful women. In 1960, her supermodel story had what seemed to be its fairy-tale ending, when the world’s press camped out at the gates of Cliveden to capture her marriage to Bill (Viscount) Astor, son of the famous Nancy. 

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