Mona Bismarck (1897-1983) is the reason the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum has a vast collection of Balenciaga. A fashion icon, and the first American to be named Best Dressed Woman in the World by a committee of couturiers that included Coco Chanel, she took the name of her third husband, Graf von Bismarck-Schonhausen, an interior decorator and grandson of the German chancellor. The two lived in Paris at an apartment in the famed Hotel Lambert and she was often featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She also lived in a townhouse on Fifth Avenue in New York, in an estate on Long Island, a beach house in Palm Beach, and an iconic villa in Capri, which was built on the ruins of a palace belonging to the emperor Tiberius. Cecil Beaton loved photographing Bismarck, and in 1943, Salvador Dali painted her portrait wearing black rags (below). Her favorite couturier was Cristóbal Balenciaga and she became his best client, since he opening his fashion house in Paris in the late 1930s; Bismarck gave her entire collection of Balenciaga to the Metropolitan Museum of Art two years before she died.