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Geneviève de Fontenay, former head of the Miss France committee, dies aged 90

The emblematic "Miss of the Misses" has died aged 90
The emblematic "Miss of the Misses" has died aged 90 Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AFP
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The former boss of the French beauty pageant died at the age of 90. She had withdrawn from public life for several years.


Geneviève de Fontenay, a historic figure in the Miss France pageant before she became persona non grata, has died aged 90.

Away from public life for years, she was indicted last June for transphobic insults and incitement to discrimination.

The emblematic "Miss of the Misses", de Fontenay quit the pageant in 2010 over differences of opinion. Defending a conservative image of femininity, she was gradually ostracised.

In 2002, European reality TV giant Endemol took over Miss France. The "lady in the hat" and Endemol soon came to blows in an "ethical conflict", as she put it, over the organisation of the competition and the ceremony.

She ended up slamming the door to launch her own dissident Miss Prestige national pageant, triggering a legal battle with Endemol.

Geneviève de Fontenay with the alums of Miss Nationale 2011THOMAS SAMSON / AFP

Born on 30 August 1932 in Longwy (in Meurthe-et-Moselle, north-east France) into a family of ten children, of whom she was the eldest, Geneviève Mulmann soon made a name for herself with her outfits, wearing chic suits from her teens onwards.

In 1954, she met the president of the Miss France structure at the time, Louis Poirot, known as de Fontenay, 24 years her senior.

Voted "Miss Elegance" in 1957, Geneviève de Fontenay spent some time modelling for Balenciaga.

She took over sole management of the Miss France Committee in 1981, after the death of Louis de Fontenay.

Known for her strong character, she boycotted the centenary of beauty pageants in France organised by French channel TF1 at the end of 2020. Geneviève de Fontenay rejected the date of 1920 - the date of the first competition for "the most beautiful woman in France" - in favour of 1928, when it was renamed "Miss France".

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