Marbella’s Old School Chic

Slim Aarons Photographed Marbella in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

As you sip on a gin and tonic on the terraces of the Marbella Club or The Sea Grill in Puente Romano, you’ll notice an air of glamour. We call it “Old School Chic”. After all, this charmed patch of coast with exquisite buildings was the epicentre of Marbella’s Golden era of style. From the 1950s onwards, movie stars, business tycoons and aristocracy cemented the city’s reputation for timeless elegance. Long days were spent at prestigious beach clubs in stunning resort attire, followed by high-brow evening events where Hollywood royalty would mingle with actual royalty. Iconic personalities such as Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner graced the resort with presence and style. They were Marbella’s original influencers; tastemakers who positioned this destination firmly on the map for the Jet Set, long before anyone had heard of a hashtag or filter.

How it started

To create a luxury resort capable of attracting the super elite it takes more than a good marketing campaign. In fact, Marbella grew from a small fishing village to the much loved destination of the super glam by the power of influence. Its beaches and palm trees provided the perfect backdrop for an exclusive inner circle of influential people of the time. The resort became an aspirational retreat and was much visited by some of the world’s most important fashion and style icons.

Photo of Marbella in the 1950s fishing village
Marbella in the 1950s – a simple fishing village
Photo of Audrey Hepburn in Marbella
Audrey Hepburn took residence in Marbella in the 1960s with husband Mel Ferrer and was often part of the Marbella Club Scene

Marbella: Fit for a prince!

We can thank Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg for converting Marbella into the vacation spot of high society. A funny twist on a Cinderella story, without pumpkins, only premium cars: Hohenloe stumbled upon the resort when, as legend has it, his Rolls Royce broke down here. He didn’t go looking for a princess with a shoe, but he did find the one venue that became the chic destination in the town forever more.

When Prince Alfonso saw Marbella for the first time, much like a fairy tale, it was love at first sight.
Struck by the city’s beautiful beaches, mountain views and amazing climate, he promptly purchased a plot and persuaded his friends from The Thyssen and The Rothschild families to join him on this land grab opportunity. As more influential friends and contacts holidayed with Hohenloe in his delightful residence, named Finca Santa Margarita, he turned it into The Marbella Club hotel. Thus, history was made.

Hohenloe’s wish was certainly granted, as a super star resort was born, with its own inimitable style and chic. Graced by movie stars, aristocracy, artists and fashion icons, Marbella became synonymous with glamour and class. Even as other resorts like Ibiza attracted hippies and later a dance scene, good old #Marbs retained it’s glitzy persona.
Hohenloe, you shall go to the ball! (And many more unforgettable dinners and events to follow.)

Prince Alfonso Hohenloe. The man who started it all
Prince Alfonso Hohenloe. The man who started it all

Old School Chic : Immortalised forever

Slim Aarons Photographed Marbella in the 60s, 70s and 80s. This was a time before the selfie pouting poses of today, where the influencers less available and more valuable. Aarons is known for capturing life of the elite in action, as it happened. It is these moments captured forever that most epitomise the old school chic of Marbella.

Slim Aarons Photographed Marbella in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Today, despite the city’s bling element, which is neither understated nor elegant, the myths of the past still persist and the Old School Chic is making a comeback. Enter The Marbella Club Hotel and you’ll see a plethora of photos showing stars in the resort, looking effortlessly chic. Stroll down the promenade of the Golden Mile and you’ll feel it: This is a special place where darlings of stage and screen and some of the world’s most iconic personalities have walked before you. Today you’ll see it in the opulent beach clubs and snug bars like The Marbella Club’s Clubhouse and Puente Romano’s Owner’s Club.

Trends come and go, and Marbella may have a flashier vibe in some parts, but heritage is eternal. For those who come to Marbella to be #instafamous, please remember, “Fashion changes, style endures.”- Coco Chanel

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