Maria Eristova, Princess Eristavi
Maria Eristova was the woman, whose beauty has become a legend of the twentieth century.
Maria (nee Shervashidze) was born on October 17, 1895 in Batumi (Georgia), but lived in St. Petersburg, where she became a lady in waiting of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. Maria was a prominent Georgian aristocrat, fashion icon – catwalk queen, and one of the earliest models of Coco Chanel. Mary is sometimes believed to be the hopeless infatuation of a famous Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze. She was popular for her beauty and gentle complexion and even drew compliments from Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.
Maria’s father was a Georgian prince Prokof Shervashidze. After the revolution and her father’s death Mary went to the Caucasus, where she married Prince Lancer Gigushu Eristov. Then Mary went to Paris. In 1925, the beautiful girl was invited to work with Coco Chanel, an increasingly popular French designer at the time.
In the final years of her life she was forced to move to a nursing home. Because of Soviet Union’s closed-door immigration policy, Mary was never able to return to Batumi. She died in France at the age of 98.
A famous Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze is sometimes thought to have been in love with Mary. He wrote a poem Mary, in which the poet described the wedding ceremony of a certain Mary. Maria Eristova disagreed with the rumors, stressing that the poem was published in 1915 in a Georgian journal Theater and Life, while her wedding to Prince Eristavi did not occur until 1918. Some sources confirm this, alleging that it was only in 1935 when Galaktion met Mary by accident as she sat in front of Louvre.