Sunday, November 24, 2013

Le Rouge et le Noir

Get ready for some obscure Baba trivia.

Norina Matchabelli was an early western disciple of Meher Baba and one of his close mandali. Her ashes are interred near Baba's samadhi in India. This is a piece of trivia about her life prior to meeting Baba.

Norina was born in Florence, Italy in 1880. Her maiden name was Gilli.
She became a famous actress who went by the name of Maria Carmi. After one marriage to a well known screen writer, she married a Georgian prince, Prince Matchabelli, who had been the Georgian ambassador to Italy. The two then imigrated to the United States.

In 1926, Norina, now with the royal title of princess, and her husband Georges, opened a small antiques shop at 545 Madison Avenue in New York City. They gave their shop the name Le Rouge et le Noir (the red and the black) after an 1830 novel by Stendhal.

It was at this Madison Avenue shop that the couple developed the Prince Matchabelli perfume brand, based on perfumes designed by the prince, and placed in bottles designed by Norina.

In 1931 Norina met Meher Baba. Wishing to devote her life to him, she also wished to free herself from all worldy ties. Thus in 1933 she and Georges divorced amicably, though they kept co-ownership of the perfume line they had created together. Georges died in 1935, and in 1936 Norina sold the company for a large amount of money. Finally free of all ties, she joined Baba for good in 1937. All her money she spent on Baba's work.

545 Madison Avenue
But what has become of the location of that little antiques shop begun by Norina and her husband Georges so long ago? It is today the location of a famous highrise, with shops beneath, still with the address 545 Madison. In this image one can see the new highrise beside the previous 1955 building. I cannot find an image of how the street looked in 1926 when Norina and Georges rented their store space.

The highrise is simply named for the address, 545 Madison Avenue. Below one can see how it looks today, if you ever want to give a nod to history while passing through midtown Manhattan.

545 Madison Avenue

545 Madison Avenue

1 comment:

  1. out of sight!
    but not out of mind