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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 17:42 GMT
Faces of the week
Faces of the Week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Imelda Marcos (main picture), with RUTH ARCHER, PETER FOSTER, BRAM STOKER and EVA GREEN.

IMELDA MARCOS

The woman reputed to have once owned 3,000 pairs of shoes has launched her own fashion label. Imelda Marcos, wife of the deposed ruler of the Philippines, has kicked off her collection with a range of jewellery.

"I turn garbage into jewellery," says Imelda Marcos, as she surveys her latest venture, creating fashion accessories from everyday objects. Some cost as little as 50; more Ratners than Aspreys.

This is somewhat incongruous since the Marcos name is normally associated with lavish wealth; wealth accrued largely from greed and corruption.

She and her husband, former Philippines strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, over two decades, plundered the riches of a country in which the vast majority of the population existed in grinding poverty.

Imelda Marcos trying on a new Imelda earring
Imelda Marcos tries on her new line of Imelda earrings
The former beauty queen had been installed as First Lady in 1965 when her husband began 20 years of increasingly dictatorial rule. As public funds poured into the couple's bank account, Mrs Marcos travelled the world on extravagant shopping sprees.

On one tour she dispatched a plane to pick up Australian white sand for the opening of a new beach resort. She was also keen on property but turned down the opportunity to purchase the Empire State Building, describing it as "too ostentatious". She did however spend several million dollars on prime buildings in Manhattan.

The couple were forced to flee the country for Hawaii after an uprising in 1986, leaving behind 50 suitcases stuffed with jewellery and a stunning collection of art. Plus, of course, those shoes.

Designed by a Who's Who of the best footwear exponents, Mrs Marcos's notorious shoe collection now resides in a footwear museum that Mrs Marcos cheekily opened in 2001 in a part of Manila now a thriving centre for shoe manufacture.

Political influence

Ferdinand Marcos died in exile just three years after he was deposed. The new government in the Philippines refused requests by his wife for his body to be buried in his homeland.

She was finally allowed back in 1991 and, the following year, had the gall to announce herself as a presidential candidate. Remarkably, she came a respectable fifth.

In 1995 she managed to get elected to the country's congress for her home district. A second attempt to gain the Presidency came to an end in 1998 when she stood down at the last minute. Despite this enough people voted for her to put her in ninth place out of the 11 candidates.

Analysts suggest that the Marcos name is still, to some, a by-word for order in a country that remains politically and economically unstable. A populist to the end, Mrs Marcos is often seen in the poor parts of Manila handing out cash.

Mrs Marcos opening a museum full of her shoes
Mrs Marcos opening a museum full of her shoes
Imelda Marcos has faced more than 900 charges of corruption against her. Although, three are still pending, none of them have stuck.

She has always dismissed any criticism of her spending sprees claiming she had to be a "star" for the poor.

She may no longer be valued at the $35bn that she was once thought to be worth, but Imelda Marcos still has an apartment adorned with original works by the likes of Picasso, Pissarro and Gauguin.

What's more, she now heads a dynasty in which two of her children hold political office, her nephew sits in the congressional seat she recently vacated, and her brother is mayor of Tacloban City.

Twenty years after her fall from grace it would seem that the Shoe Queen has lost none of her powers of self belief.

"For me, beauty has always been a religion. Plato said beauty is God made real," said the former first lady, "I'm a magpie for beauty. But what God doesn't give, you have to make yourself."


Ruth Archer, alias actress Felicity Finch
RUTH ARCHER

The will-she-won't-she dilemma for fans of the BBC radio soap, The Archers, was resolved this week as dowdy farmer's wife Ruth, played by actress Felicity Finch, backed out of a steamy hotel room liaison with cowman Sam. The programme's editor says the story just reflects rural life. However the heavy kissing and soft moans from the cowshed have proved just too much for many loyal Archers fans who claim Ruth is just too boring to have embarked on the affair in the first place.

Conman, Peter Foster
PETER FOSTER

It's not often prisoners are released because the jail is not up to scratch. That's what has happened to Australian conman Peter Foster, the man whose friendship with Cherie Blair once caused a stir, after he helped her buy two properties. Foster was arrested in Fiji last month on immigration charges and remanded in jail. Now the Fijian High Court has ruled that the cells are too squalid and he has been transferred to an upmarket hotel under 24-hour police guard.

Dracula author, Bram Stoker
BRAM STOKER

The creator of Dracula never went to Romania, the home of his famous vampire, but that hasn't stopped the country commemorating the Irish-born author. Authorities have erected a bust of the writer as a reward for his contribution to the local tourist industry. The statue is, appropriately enough, positioned next door to a graveyard in Transylvania. Dracula tourism has flourished since the fall of communism and is a significant contributor to the country's economy.

Bond actress, Eva Green
EVA GREEN

"She is not the classic Bond girl, wearing a bikini and firing guns," according to Eva Green, who plays the love interest Vesper Lynd in the latest 007 outing, Casino Royale. The producers wanted someone who could hold her own against Daniel Craig, someone not short of sex appeal himself. Green is just the latest in a long line of beauties which began with a bikini-clad Ursula Andress walking from the sea in Dr No, 44 years ago

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Nick Serpell




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