Aimée de Heeren (1903 - 2006)
sister of Vera Sotto Maior / Vera Plunkett / Vera Prettyman
friend of Alexander Graham Bell (1847 -1922), Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931),
Casey Baldwin (1882 - 1948), Bendor / 2nd Duke of Westminster (1879 - 1953)
Dmitri Romanov, (1891 - 1942) Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971)
secret service agent for Getulio Vargas (1882 -1954)
wife of Luis Simoes Lopes (1903 - 1994),
friend of Patrick J Kennedy Jr (1915 - 1944), wife of Rodman de Heeren (1910 - 1983)
friend of Johannes Thurn & Taxis (1926 - 1990)
friend of young Ben Solms, VB.com
grandmother of glamorous Victoria Noble Lee
fasion icon, member of the Best Dressed List
visitor of Cremerie de Paris 1938, 1960-1970, 1992 - 2005
helped with a little jewel given by Coco Chanel to buy Cremerie de Paris N°1
internet student at Cybercafe de Paris (Cremerie de Paris)
Two young girls from Castro, Parana, Brazil
want to discover the World
Aimée and her sister Vera Sotto Maior (1904 - 1986)
were from a poor family in Castro.
Their father Genésio de Sá Sotto Maior
and their mother Julieta Sampaio Quentel were school teachers.
They attached a lot importance to the education of their chidren.
Genésio loved to tell them stories of pioneers and inventors ...
Growing up the girls wanted to discover the World.
They moved to Rio de Janaeiro.
Begining of quite an adventure ...
Meeting Alexander Graham Bell
Just arrived in Rio Aimée meets someone from the Orléans Bragance family,
one of the grandsons of Pedro II of Brazil
who invited her to for a trip to the United States East Coast.
It's the first time she leaves Brazil
and she hardly speaks English.
Arrived in New York Aimées travel compagnon had the idea to continue
the trip to Nova Scotia, Canada
where lived a friend of his grandfather,
an old man who had once made a fabolous invention .... the telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell lived on a beautiful estate, Beinn Bhreagh.
He was surrounded by young people, all inventors:
among them Casey Baldwin, John Mc Curdy, Thomas Selfridge.
Bell sponsored their inventions and enjoyed participating in them.
When Aimée arrived Professor Bell and all the young guys were down by the water
with some funny looking elements,
test for future hydroplanes.
Everybody was fascinated by the young woman from Brazil.
Bell gave her an advise
"To stay young you need to have young friends"
Aimée loved to tell the editor of this article
that she had once met a great inventor that had given her this valuable advise.
But impossible to get his name.
Aimée "I'll tell you one day"
His identity would have revealed Aimées greatest secret, her real age.
It is only shortly before she died, august 2006
Aimée released the name
and the editor of this article understood that she was much older
than what he had ever imagined ...
well he was not the only one.
Setteling in Rio de Janeiro
Aimée and her sister Vera settled in Rio
1923 August 13 Aimée and Vera attend the Grand Opening
of the Copacabana Palace Hotel.
We do not know much of the following decade,
exept that Aimée studied languages
and that she had the chance to meet Thomas Edison
who left her a little broach with two flowers.
The two flower looked like light bulps and could be detached
as earrings, a jewel Edison had brought from Paris.
One flower represented Aimée, the other one Edison.
Edison once said that the famous General Electric logo,
representing an electric fan reminded him of Aimée,
because when ever he saw her
her could feel electricity everywhere ...
well he was not the only one
Brazilian Secret Service Agent in Europe
World War II was on it's way ...
Germany tried to get Brazil as an ally.
Getulio Vargas was tempted as he admired the German sens of order.
Before taking a final decision he wanted the advise of Aimée Lopes Sotto Maior
that had already been send to Berlin
to check out the new German regime back in september 1934 ...
1938 her mission was to settle in Paris
and to get as much information as she could possibly find.
She was helped by an unmilited "credit card"
so that she could navigate in the hi sociéty
and get acces to as much information as possible.
Fluent in English, French, Italian with a good level of German
her mission is to meet important people Paris society,
and people from government circles in German, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Chanel meets Aimée Lopes de Soto Maior
1938 Coco Chanel meets Aimee Lopes
Aimée arrives in Paris like a bombshell.
Le Tout Paris (Paris society) is impressed
by this unusually beauty from Brazil
Aimée lives between the Hotel Plaza Athénée and the Hotel Meurice.
She keeps the image of a true fashionista
and a party girl
so nobody realised her real mission getting information for Brazil.
Who is that girl ?
So beautiful ...
no husband ...
and so much money ?
Coco Chanel wanted to know the captivating woman.
Aimée was so amazingly beautiful people were speachless.
Bettina Ballard, editor in chief of Vogue and friend of Coco Chanel:
"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 in her memoires,
Video in French talking about the Memoires
of Bettina Ballard
Aimée moves to New York
The most valuable "work contact"
Aimée get in Europe
was the German Helmuth James von Moltke (1907 - 1945)
Motke was a lawyer that helped Jews to emigrate.
He was also well connected in Germany
and descendant from a well respected military family.
Moltke informed Aimée what was really going on in Germany
and gave her confidential documents
about the Nazi"s plans with the jews.
Horrified Aimee decided to work against Hitler.
Aimée transmitted the information to Vargas
and used her influence on the President of Brazil
to make him change his plans.
Having a great influence on Vargas she changed his opinion
so Brazil would not enter an
alliance with Germany.
Now Paris was becoming to dangerous for Aimée,
Secret service agents were everythere also in Rio
and someone could become aware of Aimées inquiries.
1939 end of the year
Aimée took the next ship
from Le Havre to go to New York.
A friend of Françoise Cochin de Billy helped her to dissapear
(forgot the name)
without her informing anybody,
neither Coco Chanel nor the Hotel Meurice.
Officially Aimée was spending a few days outside Paris.
Anti Hitler activist in New York
Arriving in New York
Aimee and her sister Vera took a flat in Manhattan, Park Avenue.
Joseph Kennedy was in New York when Aimée arrived.
Joseph Kennedy and Aimée
already had plans for the White House
and Rose Kennedy, the mother
thought that Aimée would be a great asset for her son.
It's only that nobody knew that Aimée was much older than expected.
Well her age was her ultimate secret.
The editor of this article did not know for 20 years,
until she told him 2006, a few days before leaving this world.
Aimée continued working as a secret agent for Vargas
now getting him information from the US
She did everything she could to keep Brazil away from Germany.
Brazil's unlimited credit cards were of help to accomplish the mission.
Aimée used all her know-how
to meet influential Americans
and to push them to take action against the Nazis.
An old friend she had met a long time ago visiting Alexander Graham Bell
was of great help when she settled,
Casey Baldwin, in the meantime director of the Graham Bell Laboratries.
Back in 1936 she had met President Roosevelt in Brazil
but it was difficult to rapproach him.
Even after 1939 september 1 invasion of Poland
and the outbreak of World War 2 (Aimee was still in Paris)
Roosevelt wanted to keep the United States out of war.
War in Europe divided the American opinion into two camps:
non-interventionists and interventionists.
1940 Aimee took part of a Charity movement
called Les Culis de Trianon Versailles
organising fashion expos
to collect money for French soldiers
part of the movement were also the socialites Lady Mendl
(thay gave the Versailles circus ball parties in 1938, 1939)
Mrs. Harrison Williams and Mrs. Ector Munn.
An expo was organised at the Wanamaker Department store in New York.
1941 "Time" electes Aimée
among the "Ten best dressed Woman in the World"
Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor was N°1
Mrs Stanley Mortimer Jr (Barbara Cushing later Babe Paley) N°2Aimée N°3
Mrs Harrison Williams, later Countess Mona von Bismarck N°4
Mrs Byron Foy N° 5
Senora Felipe A Espil N°6
Mrs Robert W Miller N°7
Mrs Robert Emmet Sherwood N°8
Rosalind Russel N°9
Lily Pons N° 10
Elanor Roosevelt, at the time first Lady of the USA
did not have enough votes from the 50 style authorities to get into the List.
1940 Nov 5 Roosevelt reelected President of the United States for the 3rd time
promising his voters not to involve in foreign wars if he were re-elected.
1941 Jospeh P Kennedy became part of the US Navy.
1941 dec 11 President Roosevelt signs the American declaration of war against Germany.
1942 august 22 President Vargas signs the Brazilian declaration of war against Germany.
1943 Kennedy returned to Britain to work on anti German submarine missions.
1944 August 12 he died on mission Aphrodite planning to attack
some German U Boat pens in the north sea.
The friendship with the Kennedy family lasted for a lifetime.
Half a century later, 2002 november 18
the editor of this article
had the chance to meet Ted Kennedy / Senator Edward Kennedy,
the young brother of Joseph P Kennedy Jr.
It was at a reception
at the musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris
where Aimée was invited.
The reception was given by L'Oréal
showing the Dresses Jacks Kennedy
was wearing during her White House years.
We were asked to come to a seperate room where
Liliane Bettencourt was waiting to meet the Kennedy family.
Caroline and her husband Schlossberg were already there.
Suddenly Ted entered the door accompanied by his daughter.
He was so exited to see Aimée
he completely forgot to greet his host ...
Instead Amée and himself started to sing a song
they used to sing in Palm Beach half a century before.
Everybody was a little surprised and Ted explained to his daughter,
his niece Caroline and to the editor of VB,
that all the Kennedy boys had been
completely crazy about Aimée ...
Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr
John F Kennedy
and of course himself
A little snapshot is left from that scene,
but maybe one day
the editor of this article
will also find a picture of young Aimée
with Patrick Jospeh Jr.
Such pictures must exist somewhere,
but as many pictures shown in the historic VB.com articles
they took years to be found somewhere ...
After the war
Returning to Paris
Renewing friendship with Coco Chanel
1939 / 1940 the friendship with Chanel
had come to an end due to Chanel's jealousy over
Bendors overwhelming presents.
Also Aimée had escaped from Paris without letting Chanel know.
After the war Chanel was persona ingrata in France
and left for Lausanne, Switzerland.
When Aimée returned to France
Gabrielle wasn't there any more.
1953 july 19 something sad happened in the middle of the summer
Bendor, at the origin of the fabolous presents
and Chanel's former boyfriend died.
Aimée had met him shortly before 1953 june 2
during the coronation ceremony for Queen Elisabeth II.
1954 Coco Chanel returns to Paris.
Both Ladies missed Bendor,
there was nobody left to give such extraordinary presents ...
One day they run into each other ...
and they are more than glad
to have someone to share souvenirs of an old friend in common.
1960 Chanel is getting older ...
she is lonely,
she lives at the Ritz
sometimes she can't sleep at night ...
Aimée spends about 4 onths of the year in Paris.
Her Parisian home is the nearby Hotel Meurice.
Partygirl Aimée loves to go out, to dance, have fun
and when she returns from a grand style party
she has so much enery she is not yet ready to go to sleep
The two Ladys have an original idea to meet for
"Night Walks through Paris"
Even though Chanel doesn't go out any more
she loves to hear all the gossip
about everything that has happened at Aimées parties ...
The destination of their nightwalks is always the same ...
Cremerie de Paris and the N°5 forged into it's magigal courtyard.
Walking down rue Saint Honoré,
they have a drink at the Maison Rouge (now Cremerie N°7)
before trying to enter the VB mansion
where they rest a moment on the N°5 staircase
sharing good old souvenirs about the past
and all the fun they had with firends like Bendor or Dmitri Romanov.
The promenade retuns along the Rue de Rivoli.
Salvadore Dali, also staying at the Meurice
had notices the Ladies several times,
but Aimée thought he was too excentric
so he was not allowed to join them.
Many years later Aimée repeated the same walks
with a young student,
connectiong him with stories of the past
as if the barriers of time would not exist.
+55 Brazil Phone Code
Whenever you call someone in Brazill
your number starts with a magical +55
Did you know that Aimée
is behind this "magic number"
an idea she had with Coco Chanel back in the early 1960s
There are only 244 countries
but only 4 have a double digit phone code
and Brazil +55
Phonecodes were attributed by the International Telecom Union
in Geneva in the early 1960ies
the story is coming soon
and will be published in the Phone Book of the World ...
Meeting a young student
Well it is not every day
a young student has the chance
to run into one of the World's ultimate secret agents.
And like everybody else he had no idea about her real age ...
They met at a brithday party
In what follows there is so much to tell
a Book should be written,
to much to squeeze into a VB.com article
For the moment
let's just talk about the "night walks through Paris"
Even though quite some time had gone by
since Chanel left this World
Aimée was still of endless energy
and of course she loved to walk through Paris
in the Middle of the night.
It's only that she needed a new company.
Why not to ask the young student ...
The nightwalks started at the Hotel Meurice
and they went in the direction of Chatelet les Halles
where was located the legendary Cremerie de Paris
the place described in Russian fairytales
by the student's great uncle and his great aunt
who were once part of the inner circle of the Romanov children.
The student had opened a Sony Phone Boutique near Cremerie de Paris N°1.
When Aimée showed hom the legendary Cremerie de Paris courtyard
for the first time
she was all surprised the student already knew about it.
The picture shows the Romanov children in 1910
on the upper left side their mother Alix Hessen / the last Tsarina
and their aunt Eleonore Solms / Eleonore Hessen.
In the small cercles the other children,
among them Dmitri Romanov,
Carl and Friederike Solms.
Carl returns in 1970 with the editor of this article now a small child
Coco Chanel is there in 1920 with Dmitri Romanov and again in 1938 with Aimée Sotto Maior,
Aimée Sotto Maior in 1938, and again with the editor of this article in 2003 (see red arrows)
the editor of this article and Aimée
knew the legends about the Cremerie de Paris,
- one by the last survivors of the Romanov children
his great uncle Carl and his great aunt Friederike,
- the other by Gabrielle Chanel and Dmitri Romanov.
The stories had the same source,
Alix Hessen / the Tsarina
that had told thme to children in the years 1910.
1992 Cremerie de Paris N°1 (closed for many many years
and covered by wood barricades)
was for rent.
The editor's small Sony Phone Store (today N°2)
worked really well
and Aimée pushed him to get Cremerie N°1
But the owner of the space was scared
to rent such a big location
to someone so young without any financial background.
The project did not work out ...
A little jewel from Coco Chanel
Cremerie de Paris N°1 returns on the market the following year.
The furniture store of a well established firm did not work,
also the Kuwait Golf war resulted in a recession
but the owner of the store
is still scared to rent it to someone so young.
"you should ask the owner to sell you the place.
Selling it he has no risk with tent payments,
try it ... "
The owner is not against the idea
but how to find financing in a country like France
that does not like to help his own children,
special when they come from abroad.
Nothing to do,
not enough financial background.
Unfortunately nothing was left from the Romanov fortunes.
Exept some magic.
The magic was called
Aimée Sotto Major
and Coco Chanel.
Aimée: "you know if it is impossible to get a bank loan in France
you need to try in another country,
Germany or the Unietd States.
They have a mentality that is more open.
And what a surprise
Deutsche Bank is ready to finance the aquisition,
all what is needed is a down payment.
A new problem ...
Not enough for the down payment.
Aimée decides to sell the jewel Coco Chanel had left her
as if Gabriele had told her "you need to continue the story"
A few days later the bank loan was ready ...
at Cybercafe de Paris
(Cremerie de Paris N°1)
more coming soon
more coming soon
Discovering more about her
more coming soon
Some of Aimée's crazy & funny stories
in between the lines
of Grand Hotels of the World.com
The N°5 logo of the Grand Hotels of the World
comes from the staircase of the Cremerie de Paris
where Aimée and Coco Chanel used to go on their nightwalks through Paris
Reopening Cremerie de Paris
same article in French on Cremeriedeparis.com/aimeedeheeren
Cremerie de Paris on Instagram
Elegance in the Age of Crisis by Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)
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