British Vogue hailed her beauty at her coming out party in 1935; Cecil Beaton was taken by her; Karl Lagerfeld was wowed by her style; she attracted three husbands; and her arrival in Sydney just after the war sparked enormous interest. But it was as Florence Packer, the wife of the buccaneering press baron Sir Frank Packer for a decade, and his widow for nearly four, that she will be best remembered.
She was born Florence Mathilde Adeline Violet Porges in Paris on June 22, 1915, but she was not really French at all - her mother, Marie-Mathilde Brodsky (Macha), was Russian, while her father, Edmond Porges, a banker, was British.
The Porges were Jewish but secular ones. ''The only time we went to the synagogue,'' Florence recalled, ''was for Rothschild weddings and funerals''.
She recalled wonderful children's parties held by Andre Citroen for his daughter Jacqueline (a contemporary of Florence) and remembered once catching a boat along the Seine and seeing the Eiffel Tower illuminated by Citroen especially for his daughter.
Macha Porges was very social. When one of her staff told her ''la duchesse had called'', she asked ''which one?'' In Monaco, Florence was, for decades, a friend and neighbour of French-born Nicole Milinaire, duchess of Bedford, the author of Nicole Nobody. The marquis Boni de Castellane, an intimate of Proust, used to help Macha decorate her parties.
Florence's nanny was Irish, which meant she was bilingual from the start. She never quite mastered the letter ''r'', giving it - rather like Marlene Dietrich - a beguiling softness.
She had governesses but young Florence wanted to go to school, so she took her nanny down to the nearby girls' school, Cours Victor Hugo, and asked them to ask her parents if she could go, like her Rothschild friends. And so she did, gaining her baccalaureate at 16 before studying at the Louvre.
She came out in 1935 - the Porges invited 250 people and the Ballets Russes performed in the back garden where a stage had been constructed. British Vogue covered the event.
In October 1937, Florence wed Robert Wigram Crawford - very good looking, already divorced and twice her age. Her father was furious and would not attend the wedding. They had a place in Eaton Square.
She left Crawford in 1940 and went to Paris. It was about to fall to the Germans, so she dragged her mother away in a tiny car. Florence's maternal aunt and cousin stayed and were never seen again. The Porges house, their art collections and stocks were seized under Vichy in 1941, 1942 and 1943.
Florence and her mother reached one of the ports, caught a ship with the King of Albania and got to Britain. They had nothing but luckily her father had money there and her mother knew the governor of the Bank of England and some funds were released. Edmond Porges had gone to Lausanne and died there in 1941.
She was in the press office of the Free French and welcomed emigres from the Continent.
Towards the end of the war, Florence met Noel Vincent and his friend Frank Packer. After a brief spell in Paris, she went to New York where she and Vincent married - in 1946. He was a commander, had two Distinguished Flying Crosses and much property in NSW. While neither charismatic nor a conversationalist, he was said to be one of the handsomest men in the country.
They came to Sydney via Auckland. Florence recalled: ''There was a drought, so we couldn't have a bath. We drove around Auckland for an hour - not a pretty woman or a pretty house in sight.''
As the ship entered the heads, the spirited young reporter Georgie Swift clambered up the side to interview her. Mrs Tom Vincent (a sister-in-law) met them at Circular Quay, then they were off to Mrs Ernest Watt's for a reception. Post-war Sydney was agog at this impossibly glamorous creature in their midst.
Vincent had ''Wee Jasper'', a historic property at Exeter, once owned by Banjo Paterson. ''But it was too too far from Sydney. So we sold it and bought Invergowrie'' (Sir Cecil Hoskins's beautiful house and garden in the southern highlands).
Although Vincent could not be aide-de-camp to the governor because he had married a divorcee, the couple nevertheless led an energetic social life. And who better than Florence to compere David Jones's launch of Dior's drop-dead ''New Look'' in 1948? As Valerie Lawson wrote in Connie Sweetheart: '''The Herald's reporter thought the parade was compered amusingly by Mrs Noel Vincent, who described the dresses in a sexy French accent.''
She was very fond of Frank Packer's wife, Gretel, and her sister Mary Hordern, two formidably fashionable consorts and matriarchs.
A curious windfall came to Florence in November 1958 when The Sunday Telegraph announced that Florence and Arthur Browning had won the final Teleword competition, sharing the £30,000 prize. The front page photograph did not mention Florence's friendship with the Packers, or the fact Browning was Sir Frank's bookmaker.
Florence's marriage to Vincent ended in 1961 and she again retreated, for a time, to Paris.
In 1964, four years after Gretel's death, a lonely yet much pursued Sir Frank rescued Florence from Paris. They married at Caxton Hall registry on June 15 and he announced their marriage at a press conference at the Savoy. The legendary press baron Lord Beaverbrook had died six days earlier and Sir Frank took the breath away of even the most hardbitten reporters with his quip: ''If only I'd known Lady Beaverbrook was coming on to the market.''
Florence became Lady Packer and chatelaine of Cairnton, the family estate at Bellevue Hill. The memory of her friend and perhaps her husband's aversion to change meant that Cairnton was left more or less as it was.
Sir Frank had a weakness for stray dogs and Florence recalled having as many of five of them in the house. She was clearly fond of Sir Frank and she loved his sense of humour. He explained her absence from one of his America's Cup challenges at Newport by saying: ''Oh, she's making jam.''
After Sir Frank's death in 1974, she returned again to France to care for her indomitable mother. Macha died in 1978 and Florence spent the next three decades alternating between Monaco and Sydney.
She was one of the Australian stars - Dame Joan Sutherland and the Whitlams were the others - who charmed the International Olympic Committee, gathered in Monaco, into giving the 2000 Olympics to Sydney.
Florence entertained them on a boat lent by her stepson Kerry. She returned to Sydney every year until her 90th birthday. Her last visit was also the centenary of Sir Frank's birth. Florence's loyalty and affection for him never wavered and his family valued that.
Life in Monaco revolves around its royal family, the Grimaldis, and Florence was often a guest at the palace. Prince Rainier's father, Pierre de Polignac, had been a great friend of Macha's. His grandson Prince Albert attended a party given by Florence's stepdaughter-in-law, Ros Packer, for her 90th birthday.
Her brother, Michel, a banker in New York, died there in 1999. Her stepson Clyde died in California in 2001; Kerry in Sydney on Boxing Day, 2005. With her parents buried in Lausanne and Paris, Florence called herself ''the madonna of the cemeteries''.
Florence Packer died in Monaco, where Porgeses had lived, played and charmed for more than a century.