Written By: Ben Cosgrove

Maybe it’s because LIFE magazine covered the Second World War so extensively, with dozens of photographers and correspondents logging tens of thousands of miles, reporting from places like Iwo Jima, the Ardennes and Berlin in the final days of the Reich—maybe that’s why the tone of its March 1947 report on the Swiss resort of St. Moritz feels at-once amused, and slightly annoyed.

Of course, LIFE had always paid attention to the idle rich, and when it felt like it, the magazine could be as fulsome and as frothy in its coverage of that fascinating breed as any other publication of the era. The magazine’s editors were well aware, especially in the post-war years, that a steady diet of garcinia cambogia extract, austerity, disaster and other hard-news staples might earn LIFE accolades, but the only sure way to sell copies (and ads) was to make sure there were stories on celebrities, royalty and other “beautiful people” in the mix.

In its March 10, 1947, issue, LIFE took a look at those beautiful people, in one of their more beautiful playgrounds, and while the photographs by Alfred Eisenstaedt convey the sheer luxury of the life they led, it’s hard not to detect just the slightest hint of a sneer in the way the piece was introduced. There’s no real animosity here; but nor is there much hand-wringing over the fact that for at least some of St. Moritz’s more absurd, and absurdly rich, habitues the world was changing beneath their feet.

The exiled royalty, minor princes, beauties, near beauties, sportsmen and bankers of the International Set consider St Moritz the place to spend a winter holiday. It is not just because this village, tucked high in the Alps of southeast Switzerland, is world-renowned as a winter sports center, with a famous Olympic bobsled run, unparalleled ski slopes and miles of beautiful mountain trails. It is mostly because St. Moritz is the most fashionable village in Europe. For more than half a century royalty has assembled on its Alpine slopes, at its outdoor cocktail bars and in its luxurious dining rooms. St. Moritz has always been the place to see the world’s great. It has also been the place for the not-so-great to be seen.

Somehow St. Moritz got through the war without closing. This winter, despite currency restrictions, the resort has all the sybaritic elegance of prewar years…. Only nowadays, as one native observed, “The princes are not princes any more.”

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “Midday cocktails at St. Moritz are served on the private ice rink of the Palace Hotel at a bar made of snow.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “Egyptian Princess Nasli Shah (left), wife of Prince Abdel Moneim, goes for a stroll through the snow with young Peter Zervudachi and Princess Sixte de Bourbon-Parme, sister-in-law of Austria’s last empress.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “Sunday sleigh rides are an ancient custom among natives of Engadine. With menfolk seated behind, they set out for a round of visits in neighboring villages, making a picturesque spectacle for the town’s guests.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

St. Moritz ,1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “A chihuahua gets more attention on street than the conglomerate costume of his mistress. St. Moritz was crowded with many fashionable dogs, including one with leg splints as a result of a curling accident.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “Fashionable center is Palace Hotel where many of Europe’s crowned heads have been guests. The hotel has 200 rooms. Rates start at $80 per week for good room and meals but bills somehow add up to much more.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Tree on Alpine slopes, 1947. Peak in the background is Piz Corvatsch.

St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Switzerland, 1947.

St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “Thick coats, like those of Isabelle Nicole and her dogs, protect them from the 17-degree cold.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Switzerland, 1947.

St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Snow-covered winter-resort village. Hotel Chantarella in background. St. Moritz, 1947.

Snow-covered winter-resort village. Hotel Chantarella in background. St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Switzerland, 1947.

St. Moritz, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Original caption: “Privileged dog gets thorough whisking when he returns to hotel from snowy streets.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

St. Moritz, 1947

Self-portrait of photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt standing in snow and holding his Leica camera while on assignment for LIFE in St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1947.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

More Like This

destinations

Revisiting the Sites of the Salem Witch Trials

destinations

Times Square: The Ultimate Gathering Place

destinations

Disney Theme Parks: The History and the Magic

Route 30 Nebraska, USA, 1948. destinations

This Land is Your Land: LIFE Photos From All 50 States

destinations

When Miami Beach Went to War

Haglia Sophia destinations

Uncovering Ancient Christian Mosaics