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cleopatra oettingen spielberg’s latest campaign for breitling watches

CHRISTOPHER BUSCH/BREITLING

“I must admit, it took some getting used to,” says Cleopatra Oettingen-Spielberg of Oettingen in Bayern, the small Bavarian town (pop. 5,047, at last available count) where she made her home in 2016 after marrying Hereditary Prince Franz-Albrecht zu Oettingen-Spielberg. The lavish wedding celebration saw the local population swell by nearly 800 guests, but the everyday reality is far more laid-back. Previously, the former Baroness Cleopatra von Adelsheim von Ernest (who goes by Cleo) had lived in Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin, studying journalism and later pursuing an acting and modeling career—a prophetic casting saw her play a German princess in a 2015 German TV movie. Now a mother of two, she can’t imagine living anywhere else, particularly when the festive season rolls around.

cleopatra oettingen spielberg’s children, prince louis albrecht and princess matildagalilea, take in the christmas tree, which each year the family handpicks from the oettingen forest

Oettingen-Spielberg’s children, Prince Louis-Albrecht and Princess Matilda-Galilea, take in the Christmas tree, which each year the family handpicks from the Oettingen Forest.

Courtesy of the subject

“Wherever your children grow up is going to become your home instantly,” she says, happy to return to the countryside after a few days away when, say, one of the many brands she works with (Chanel and Breitling among them) calls her to Munich. She’s also embraced the duties that come with marrying into one of Germany’s oldest families, which include preserving three historically significant properties and surrounding woodlands. In addition to maintaining good relations with neighboring towns and farms, there are of course the interiors to tend to. Though the family values history and tradition, each generation makes its own mark. “There is always something to be done, and as soon as that’s finished, another project pops up,” Oettingen-Spielberg says. One she’s particularly excited about involves the Schloss Oettingen ballroom ceiling: It features four panels depicting each season, but its empty center panel has remained a mystery for centuries. Plans are currently underway to finally fill the space, with a daring contemporary work. And when it comes time to unwind, the large, airy space proves the perfect setting for a spot of yoga—or even the local high school prom or graduation.

when closed to tours, the grand ballroom at schloss oettingen proves the perfect makeshift yoga studio cleopatra oettingen spielberg

When closed to tours, the grand ballroom at Schloss Oettingen proves the perfect makeshift yoga studio.

Courtesy of the subject

For Oettingen-Spielberg, who spent many a balmy Christmas with her parents in Chile (where her mother is from), it has become an idyllic, snow-covered place in which to spend the holidays. “It is very traditional in appearance, but the mood is very relaxed,” says Oettingen-Spielberg of Christmas in Bavaria. That means the family silver and china come out for a festive dinner at her in-laws’ home, the Baroque palace and family seat known as Schloss Oettingen, on December 24, followed by gifts and a “super relaxed” Christmas Day. The region is famous for Nymphenburg porcelain, and a favorite hand-painted pattern of Oettingen-Spielberg’s features the family crest and each of the 36 butterflies that inhabit the Oettingen Forest, along with their taxonomic names. Large-scale floral arrangements also help set the scene, thanks to the work of one talented staff member who utilizes blooms from the castle’s gardens whenever possible.

 “I will always choose comfort over caviar.”

—Cleo Oettingen-Spielberg

the venetian inspired sitting room cleopatra oettingen spielberg decorated with joachim von schÖnberg of hahne  schÖnberg

The Venetian-inspired sitting room Oettingen-Spielberg decorated with Joachim von Schönberg of Hahne & Schönberg.

Courtesy of the subject

Oettingen-Spielberg maintains an office at Schloss Oettingen, which is open to the public for tours. The building was commissioned by one of her husband’s forebears, the widowed Countess Ludovica Rosalie, in a move that was considered quite bold for a woman in 1679. Oettingen-Spielberg and her immediate family live nearby in their own castle, Schloss Hirschbrunn, a hunting lodge. There, she favors a traditional palette of red and gold for the season and admits to embracing LED candles (as the building is mostly constructed of wood) and comfort food. “I love cheese fondue and will always choose comfort over caviar,” says Oettingen-Spielberg, who also enlisted Munich-based interior decorator Joachim von Schönberg, of Hahne & Schönberg, to assist with the general decor. One result of their collaboration: a sitting room that channels the drama of Venice, one of her favorite destinations, and features wall covering with a Renaissance scene, its jewel tones enhanced by a scattering of velvet pillows on a crimson velvet window seat, surrounded by heavy curtains and dimly lit lamps and sconces. “I would say it’s a very happy home in the sense that each room is completely different,” she says. “There’s lots of color, lots of wallpaper, but I’ve also adapted my style to the home.”

cleopatra oettingen spielberg

Courtesy of the subject

the family terriers add to the castle’s surprisingly homey feel cleopatra oettingen spielberg

Courtesy of the subject

schloss oettingen all dressed up for the holidays and covered in snow

Schloss Oettingen all dressed up for the holidays and covered in snow.

Courtesy of the subject

For those visiting Bavaria during the season, Oettingen-Spielberg says the holiday markets can’t be missed for handcrafted gifts and ornaments. “The region is full of them,” she says, including the famed Nuremberg market, one of the oldest in the world. She also recommends visiting the area’s beautiful castles, such as the renowned Neuschwanstein. Vintage Love in Munich is a favorite for its “amazing selection of well-priced vintage dirndl,” while both Hotel Bayerischer Hof and Mandarin Oriental, Munich, offer a perfect base. The gourmet market Dallmayr, which is more than 300 years old, offers local delicacies to sample or send home, but should you take a shine to loden, the famed wool used for outerwear, you may not want to bring back more than a piece or two. Oettingen-Spielberg just finished battling moths, and the distinctive green fabric was named as the culprit. “We had a lot of loden in the house,” she says. #castleproblems.

This article appeared in the December/January issue of ELLE.

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