Posing for many photographers who diffuse her image worldwide, in newspapers and postcards, she is elected Beauty Queen in 1896 among various celebrities. The same year, she enhances her fame when a white marble sculpture, La Danseuse, by Alexandre Falguière, is said to have been moulded on her body; facing a public scandal, she claims she only lent her features to the sculpture’s face.
During the Belle Epoque, two romantic feminine figures fascinated: the devil and the angel. Cléo de Mérode incarnated the angelic heroine who with her delicate features, posed innocently for holy-like pictures that made her look like a virginal Eve. Inspiring such artists as Edgar Degas and Paul Klee, the dancer defended her immaculate reputation and diffused a mysterious, romantic and melancholic aura that far from the usual 1900s beauty ideals, evoked more of a Renaissance-like aesthetic.