It took Sisi almost three hours to brush and prepare her long hair each day and up to a day to wash it. Empress Elisabeth was, however, unhappy with her hairdressers. Then at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Empress Elisabeth spotted the leading lady’s beautiful hair.
The Burgtheater’s new hairdresser was 20-year-old Fanny Feifalik. Sisi invited her for interview and offered her a massive pay rise to become her exclusive hairdresser. The salary of 2,000 gulden was the same as a university professor and not far short of the stars of the Burgtheater.
Fanny accepted in 1863 and the results of her work were recorded by painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter two years later. The most-famous painting of Sisi shows her with stars plaited into her hair. Fanny went everywhere with Empress Elisabeth and inevitably became one of her confidants. She soon learnt to flatter Sisi by hiding any hairs that she brushed out and then showing Empress Elisabeth a clean comb.
Within three years of starting to work for Sisi, Fanny Angerer announced she wished to marry a bank official Hugo Feifalik. Court rules said that if Fanny married Hugo she would have to leave Sisi’s service. Elisabeth persuaded Emperor Franz Joseph to allow Fanny to stay.
Hugo Feifalik was able to travel with Fanny because he was made one of Sisi’s secretaries and he later became Reisemarschall (travel manager), a senior executive and finally Treasurer of the Order of the Starry Cross Sternkreuz-Orden, which is still awarded to Catholic ladies and was headed by Empress Elisabeth.
Inevitably Fanny and the ladies-in-waiting were jealous of each other. They had precedent over her; she spent many hours with Sisi. The Emperor also complained about Fanny’s influence on the Empress.
Photographs show that Fanny had a close resemblance to Empress Elisabeth. This allowed the ever-shy Sisi to use Fanny as her double and avoid the crowds gathered to see her. When crowds gathered on the cliff tops to watch Sisi bathing at Ventnor it was undoubtedly Fanny who they saw going into the sea. It was a ruse that Sisi also used on occasions in Europe.
After the Empress’s murder, Fanny Feifalik retired and received a court pension. She died on 14 July 1911 at the age of 69, her husband Hugo followed her three years later, in 1914.