Earlier this year I met Lady Martha Sitwell, horsewoman and founder of specialist clothes design company Sitwell & Whippet. Martha makes beautiful 'habits' for women to wear when riding sidesaddle, which I write about in my latest column for the FT's How To Spend It - you can read the full article here.
Lady Martha Sitwell. Image: Rita Nowak
Martha told me that one of her heroines was Elisabeth (or 'Sisi'), Empress of Austria, born into Bavarian royalty in 1837 and assassinated by an Italian anarchist in 1898. Sisi was a dedicated horsewoman and probably the best known female equestrian at the time. She took up fencing in her fifties and only abandoned sports when her gout made it too painful to move. She was just as committed to her beauty regime, washing her waist-length hair in cognac, bathing in olive oil and going to sleep with a face mask of crushed strawberries and raw veal (!!) to improve her skin.
Sisi, Empress of Austria
Elisabeth's name is often associated with a trilogy of romantic films about her life starring a teenage Romy Schneider:
Martha is currently riding sidesaddle across Mongolia to raise money for the charity Mind. To make a donation, please visit this link.
Martha photographed for Tatler Magazine, 2011