Feature

How Imelda is rebuilding her shoe collection.

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Philippines

David McNeill
The Independent (U.K.)

Imelda Marcos has lost a great deal, said David McNeill in London’s Independent, but she soldiers bravely on. The widow of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was once one of the 10 richest women on the planet, and she had 3,000 pairs of shoes to prove it. Now, though, she’s “broke. Or so she says.” Instead of multiple mansions, she’s been reduced to one large suite in Manila’s most exclusive apartment building, the walls hung lavishly with Picassos and Gauguins. Instead of a staff of scores, she is waited on by a mere half-dozen white-coated servants. At 76, Imelda no longer exudes sweetness and charm, but rather a “flinty, hard-worked glamour.” The feistiness, though, is still there. When she talks of being exiled, along with her husband, 20 years ago after an uprising ended their looting of the state, she spits nails. “We found ourselves in Hawaii, penniless,” she says, though the couple had $9 million in cash, bonds, and jewels. She eventually returned to her homeland—and her closet holds plenty of shoes. “Everywhere I go, the people give me shoes,” she says. “I’ll end up having more than what they stole from me.

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