Often hailed as “the first lady of Egyptian cinema”, Hind Rostom starred in more than 80 films during the Golden Age of Arab cinema. Throughout her career, she portrayed strong, witty, outspoken female characters alongside legendary actors such as Farid Shawqi and Omar Sharif, defying stereotypical gender norms and becoming a symbol of Arab feminism.
With her trademark blonde curls, sensual costumes and stylish dress sense, she was dubbed the Arab world’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, as the two rose to fame around the same time. While she rejected comparisons with the American bombshell, Rostom did express her enduring love of timeless fashion in an interview before her death.
“I hate fashion these days," she said. "Why wear jeans to every occasion, day or night? In my day people were so elegant and sophisticated. We used to go to the cinema in furs.”
Rostom's first major role was in Hassan Al-Imam's Banat el Lail. She retired in 1979 while still at the peak of her career, and no project managed to coax her back into the spotlight. She also refused to tell her own story, despite being offered significant amounts of money, so has, in many ways, remained something of an enigma.
"My life is not for sale," she famously said.
Rostom died in a Giza hospital in 2011, after suffering a heart attack. She was 81.
One thing that is well documented is her passion for collecting jewellery.
Rostom would source pieces from around the world via her favourite jewellery boutique in Cairo, and would also design her own customised pieces. She had a penchant for diamonds and rubies and was a regular attendee at auctions, which is fitting given that a selection of jewels from her personal collection will appear in the Sotheby’s Magnificent & Noble Jewels auction in Geneva on Wednesday, November 10.
Three of these pieces – a diamond and emerald bracelet, a striking pendant and a pair of diamond cluster earrings by David Webb – are currently on show at the Sotheby’s gallery in DIFC, where they will remain until Thursday.