designer: Irmgard Paul
Empress Elisabeth, nicknamed 'Sisi', was born in Bavaria and married Franz Josef I at age 16. She was not well suited to court life and had an extremely interfering mother-in-law, which did not help. Her major political achievement was contributing to the Austo-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, and that was mostly because she retreated to Hungary for solace and an escape from Vienna. For the most part, she had no control in her life as Empress, but what she could control - and did so, obsessively - was her physical appearance and her beauty. She was a tall woman (5'8") and weighed around 110lbs. With the aid of exercises, fasting and corsets she emphasized her slender figure and 19" waist. Her chestnut hair fell to her knees when let loose and took 2-3 hours of care daily. This portrait, by Francis Xaver Winterhalter, was made in 1894 when Sisi was 27 years old and is said to have been Franz Josef's favourite.