Guy Martin, Contributor| Forbes|
Kleptocracies come apart for all sorts of reasons, but it’s a rare delight that the Zimbabwean military’s to-date rather slick putsch was triggered, in part, by Grace Mugabe’s freely decadent history of luxury shopping. Ever the snappy dresser, the now-embattled first lady, 52 – at this writing under house arrest in the couple’s $10-million, 25-bedroom Blue Roof mansion in Harare – was until a few weeks ago a regular in the world’s fashion capitals and well-known in Harare and beyond for her jewelry, her collection of designer shoes, and not least, for her habit of dropping rock-star levels of cash in the best shops of Paris, Rome, and London. She famously hit one Paris shop for a whopping $75,000, a spree that she denies but that nevertheless has stuck in the popular imagination. European Union sanctions against the Mugabes restricted their Continental appearances only somewhat since the early Aughts. She and her husband were welcome in the Vatican, and could traverse Italy to get to this or that celebration at the Holy See. For the moment, she remains welcome in the United States.
Derisively known in Harare as ‘The First Shopper,’ ‘Gucci Grace,’ and latterly as ‘DisGrace,’ Mrs. Mugabe’s extensive wardrobe features, among other baubles, a reported mountain of Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. Quizzed by a reporter about the footwear, she blithely replied: “I have very narrow feet, so I can only wear Ferragamos.