Only fitting that I start this with a post dedicated to one of the most intriguing and original femmes of all time, Marchesa Luisa Casati. She would often parade around parties with a pair of cheetahs and snakes wrapped around her neck. It almost seems surreal that she walked the earth. Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, a novel detailing her life, reveals all of the magic she inspired: she was the inspiration for Cartier’s Panther design.
This site gives an impressive history and houses images of the Countess not available anywhere else.
Introduction from Infinite Variety, The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casti:
“She was the most scandalous woman of her day.”
The Marchesa Luisa Casati was Europe’s most notorious celebrity, and its most eccentric. For the first three decades of the twentieth century she astounded the continent. Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her. Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table. She wore live snakes as jewelry. And she was infamous for her evening strolls, naked beneath her furs, parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leashes. She traveled to Venice, Rome, Capri, and Paris – collecting palaces and a menagerie of exotic animals. Her outlandish homes became the setting for some of the century’s most outrageous parties. Artists painted and sculpted her, poets praised her strange beauty, and fashion designers fought for her patronage. Among those she captivated were Gabriele D’Annunzio, Man Ray, Augustus John, Erte, Kees Van Dongen, Jean Cocteau, Cecil Beaton, and Jack Kerouac. Some became lovers, others awestruck admirers, but all were inluenced by this extraordinary muse.
Since I first posted this, my first blog post, a new book will be released and the Marchesa was the focus of Karl Lagerfeld’s 2010 Resort collection for Chanel. More info on the new novel and pix from the runway here. I also found a Marchesa inspired polish fit for the goth girl (or boy) at heart.
The Marchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse includes artists’ renditions of the woman who has captured fashion’s imagination for a century. The book is available now.