Princess Diana’s niece marries South African fashion mogul
Lady Kitty Spencer, the niece of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, tied the knot last weekend with her billionaire beau, ex-South African fashion industry mogul Michael Lewis, in a lavish ceremony in Italy.
In what has been dubbed the society wedding of the year, the fashion model and British aristocrat said “I do” donned in one of many spectacular custom gowns by Dolce & Gabbana, for whom Kitty is a brand ambassador.
The glamorous couple got engaged in 2019, and it’s believed that they delayed their original wedding plans due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to Hello! magazine, Kitty and Michael’s big day had special meaning for the couple as it fell on the weekend of Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love, which is said to be a great day for weddings, the renewal of vows, or proposing.
Michael, the chairperson of The Foschini Group (TFG), is Jewish, and it has been reported that Kitty converted to the religion before their nuptials.
This week, every glossy magazine and celebrity online newspaper edition filled pages with photographs of the fairy tale wedding fit for royalty. The ceremony took place at a 17th century Italian castle near Rome before a shimmering guest list that included amongst many others Elon Musk’s mother Maye, as well as members of the British aristocracy, well known DJs, celebrities, and catwalk stars.
Lady Kitty, 30, the daughter of Earl Spencer and his first wife, former British fashion model Victoria Aitken, grew up in Cape Town, and attended the University of Cape Town (UCT). Lewis, 62, who is five years older than his new father-in-law, is also a graduate of UCT.
Also in attendance were Kitty’s fashion model twin sisters, Lady Eliza and Amelia Spencer, with their South African partners.
The Spencer siblings – first cousins to Princes William and Harry – spent their early years in the Spencers’ family home, Althorp, in Northamptonshire, before moving with their parents to South Africa in 1995, two years before Diana’s death.
When Kitty’s parents divorced two years later, Earl moved back to the United Kingdom, while Kitty and her siblings stayed in South Africa with their mother. Lewis, Kitty, and her siblings maintain very close ties to South Africa, especially Cape Town.
Amelia got engaged to her water polo instructor boyfriend, Greg Mallett, on 22 July last year. Mallet, who works as an estate agent, has been on the scene for 11 years and is the nephew of former South African national rugby coach Nick Mallett. The couple first met while studying at UCT, and he reportedly popped the question at the Clouds Wine and Guest Estate in Stellenbosch.
Lewis is a fashion tycoon and multi-millionaire whose family previously pledged £3 million (R61.5 million) to Oxford University to fund the appointment of a professor of Israel studies. He also owns a multi-million pound mansion in central London, as well as his apartment in Cape Town.
According to The Mail On Line, Kitty was escorted at the wedding ceremony, held in the gardens of the Villa Aldobrandini, a stunning mansion in Frascati, by her brother Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and half-brother Samuel Aitken, whose father is businessman Jonathan Aitken.
There was no sign at the celebration – which spanned three days – of her father, nor Princes William and Harry, whose weddings in 2011 and 2018 Kitty attended.
It’s believed that Lewis’ three grown-up children from his marriage to ex-wife Leola were present.
The couple began dating sometime in 2018. Lewis proposed in Cape Town before Christmas in 2019.
Kitty grew up out of the limelight in the Mother City, and attended Reddam House Constantia. She lived with her mother and siblings in a gated estate in Constantia. She reportedly spent several holidays with her father at Althorp, the family’s ancestral home, where her aunt, Lady Diana, is buried.
Lewis’ late grandfather, Meyer Lewis, founded the Lewis furniture retailer, the Lewis Group, in the 1930s, and his late father, Stanley, acquired a controlling share in Foschini years later when Foschini was experiencing financial difficulties, turning the business around completely.
Michael followed in his entrepreneurial father’s steps on the Foschini board, and according to Business Insider, sold 16% of his stake in the group in 2016. He has served as TFG chairperson since 2015.
Some of the brands in the TFG stable include Foschini, @home, @homelivingspace, American Swiss, Fabiani, G-Star RAW, Duesouth, Sportscene, TotalSports, and Markham.
According to media reports, Lewis, who moved to London from Cape Town in the 1980s, founded the family’s investment vehicle, Oceana Investment Corporation, and Israeli biotechnology company Prochon.
The late Stanley was described by many as a businessman extraordinaire and a generous benefactor. He passed away in London in 2009, and is survived by his wife Zea and four children, Renee, Michael, Wendy, and Cheryl. The family set up the Stanley and Zea Lewis Family Foundation, which makes grants focused on Jewish causes as well as other charities. Together with Telfed (the South African Zionist Federation, Israel), the foundation has provided hundreds of scholarships for southern African students in Israel.
It has awarded grants to a number of organisations including several synagogues, the community security trust, DALAID (Relief of Poverty and Advancement of Jewish Education), the Holocaust Educational Trust, Chai Cancer Centre, Jewish Care, and WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organisation), to name a few.
Kitty’s exquisite Dolce & Gabbana outfits stole the show, starting with her lace wedding gown, a picture of which she shared on her personal Instagram account. Lewis looked dapper in a white tuxedo with a black bowtie.
“Amore. Per Sempre,” Kitty captioned a photograph with her husband, which translates to, “Love. Forever.”