Another image of Mrs. Agnelli, from December of that year, would help define an era of beauty. Richard Avedon shot her in half profile, wearing a strapless gown that accentuated her long neck. The black-and-white image, which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been compared to a Modigliani painting.
After the wedding, Mrs. Agnelli was not eager to take on the role of housewife. She had recently spent 18 months apprenticing with Blumenfeld and accepted a reporting job with Condé Nast, which she abandoned after the wedding.
What she did love, though, was the leisure and the luxury. In a first-person story for Vanity Fair, she recalled a shopping trip in Paris that took place shortly after the wedding. Mrs. Agnelli had booked an overnight train from Turin, and when she boarded her sleeping car, she found that it was full of her home comforts: monogrammed towels, her favorite toiletries, even fresh flowers.
“This, I soon discovered, was how the Agnellis traveled when they took a night train,” Mrs. Agnelli wrote. “This was also when I realized I had entered a very different way of life from the one I was used to.”
She developed the Agnellis’ taste for the finer things in life — custom garments, formal dinner parties, designer furnishings — while maintaining a relaxed home atmosphere. After a tour of the extravagant apartment of the billionaire couple Sid and Mercedes Bass, Mrs. Agnelli reportedly remarked: “It will take her another lifetime to understand wicker.”
The couple gave birth to their first child, Edoardo, in 1954, and Margherita followed the next year. Mrs. Agnelli is survived by her daughter, Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen, her brother Nicola Caracciolo di Castagneto and eight grandchildren. Her son died in 2000.
As parents Marella and Gianni continued to refine their image as a worldly and stylish power couple. They acquired an expansive contemporary art collection that included works by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella; yachted up and down the Amalfi Coast with the Kennedys and swam in the Adriatic Sea with Mr. Capote; collected cars, yachts and private planes; and cultivated acres of pristine gardens that spread across several homes on three continents.