Grace Mugabe and other first ladies who live in the lap of luxury

Grace Mugabe and other first ladies who live in the lap of luxury

Grace Mugabe and other first ladies who live in the lap of luxury

Updated 21 November 2017, 19:10 AEDT

As Robert Mugabe's reign over Zimbabwe draws to a close, attention has turned to the role his wife — known for her extravagant spending — has played in his plunging popularity.

As Robert Mugabe's reign over Zimbabwe draws to a close, attention has turned to the role his wife has played in his plunging popularity.

Grace Mugabe has spent the past few years positioning herself as her husband's successor, much to the chagrin of senior leaders of Zanu-PF.

She enjoyed the support of some in the political party's youth wing, but is deeply unpopular with the wider population, thanks in large part to her reputation for extravagant spending.

Known to many as "Gucci Grace" or Zimbabwe's "First Shopper", she's believed to have spent tens of thousands of tax-payer dollars on luxury goods and shopping sprees in Paris.

But she's not the first to make the position of first lady look lucrative.

The queen of shoes

Imelda Marcos was the wife of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who is remembered for his corruption and brutality.

As first lady, Ms Marcos was known for her opulent lifestyle, in particular her love of shoes.

When her husband was finally ousted from office in 1986, more than 2,700 pairs of shoes were found in her wardrobe, many of which are now housed in a museum in Marikina.

The family fled and lived several years in exile. But when her husband died, Ms Marcos returned to the Philippines and to politics, winning a seat in the country's House of Representatives four times.

One of the country's richest politicians, she reportedly maintains an extensive collection of clothing, artwork and jewellery.

She's also believed to have stashed millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts under the name "Jane Ryan" frustrating attempts by investigators to recover the cash.

'Desert rose'

Asma al-Assad was something of a media darling before the start of the Syrian Civil War.

Born in Britain to Syrian parents, the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is well-educated and was described by Vogue magazine as "glamorous and chic" in a 2011 profile.

As Syria became a war zone, and her husband stood accused of committing war crimes, Asma al-Assad was reported to have spent almost half-a-million dollars on furniture.

Emails obtained by Wikileaks reportedly contained to the details of orders for five chandeliers, 11 ottomans and a rug worth just under $20,000. She's also believed to have a penchant for Louboutin shoes.

Her Instagram account is littered with photos of her looking calm and perfectly coiffed despite the war that's raging in Syria and the desperate conditions faced by much of the population.

Mrs Gaddafi

The second wife of Muammar Gaddafi, Safia Farkash, kept a relatively low profile while her husband made headlines for his dictatorial rule in Libya.

She's believed to have met the dictator while she was nursing him in hospital. They soon married and had several children, enjoying a lavish lifestyle while many in the country lived in poverty.

Reports of the exact nature of her wealth have varied, particularly since the 2011 Libyan uprising and Gaddafi's death. But persistent rumours claim she's the owner of 20 tonnes of gold along with a personal jet.

In 2012, The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates froze her bank accounts over alleged atrocities committed by her husband.

She's now been allowed to return to Libya with members of her family, a move that stirred discontent among the population.