Princess Marcella Borghese, 90; Socialite Created Line of Cosmetics

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Princess Marcella Borghese, an Italian socialite who turned a small line of lipsticks into a skin care and cosmetics brand sold in exclusive stores around the world, has died at age 90.

Borghese died Jan. 19 at her home in Montreux, Switzerland, her family said Thursday. She was buried in the family crypt at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Born Marcella Fazi, Borghese joined the Roman noble family in 1937 with her wedding to Prince Paolo Borghese, the duke of Bomarzo. The prince, who died in 1985, was part of a family linked to the arts and the history of Italy since the Middle Ages. It produced one pope -- Paul V -- as well as Rome’s most famous public park and one of its loveliest art galleries, the Galleria Borghese.


For generations, the family had had their cosmetics made for them, mainly from fruits and other natural ingredients. Marcella Borghese had lipsticks made for herself that were color-coordinated to her wardrobe.

When her children were older and she had time on her hands, she decided to take that idea into the cosmetics business.

She had her personal chemist create samples of eight lipsticks and asked eight Italian designers to make outfits to match each shade.

In 1956 she came to the United States with three models, the eight lipsticks and the designer clothes to launch Princess Marcella Borghese Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary of Revlon Inc.

Her line, comprising upscale skin products and makeup as well as spa treatments, is sold in some of the most exclusive department stores. Revlon sold the company to Saudi investors in 1991.

The princess remained involved with the line until recently, her son, Livio, said in a telephone interview from New York. “She never really left the company,” he said, adding that his mother died peacefully.


The princess is survived by Livio; his twin, Francesco; Anita Mauritzi of Rome, her daughter from her first marriage; and seven grandchildren. A memorial Mass is scheduled for Feb. 19 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.