Sunday, 8 April 2012

Marchesa Luisa Casati

'She became a being of her own invention - not one of any particular sex, or time, or size, or shape.'

Marchesa Luisa Casati has been the most entertaining part of Italian High Class. The most innovative and creative woman ever lived! Even though her most spectacular years were 1910 - 1920 and when 20s brought new flapper style and ready made dresses she still kept her style of past splendor and sparkled.
Much less understood and accepted by the crowd Luisa couldn't care less about disapproval she caused.
' Count Etienne de Beaumont had planned a ball and the Marchesa Casati decided to appear as an electrically equipped Saint Sebastian. She was to wear armour pierced with hundreds of arrows, each studded with glittering stars that were to light up when the Marquesa appeared. In the morning of the ball in a little side room (...) she arrived with her host's permission, bringing a fleet of servants, an electrician, and stoves for boiling water to make cups of tea or coffee while the elaborate preparations for her appearance were in progress. At last, her maquillage complete, her hair fixed in an aureole of ringlets, the Marquesa was pulled into tights and the armour was fixed on her with padlock. But at the moment of being plugged in a disaster took place; the costume was shortcircuit and instead of being lighted up with thousands stars, the Marquesa suffered an electric shock that sent her into a backward somersault. She did not recover in time to appear at the party, leaving a note (...) "milles regrets".' 
Yes. It was in 20s.

Once she attended a mask ball where she arrived and dined dressed as a serpentine having on her side naked woman and naked man - Adam and Eve, those two were just and only part of her costume.
With time she went 'mad'.
' Eccentricity is tolerable only in it's first freshness. Cherished until it has gone stale, it becomes unbearably pathetic and at the same time alarming.' Maurice Druon.
But once it was fresh...
Luisa Casati had a Style. 

Some say that she just poped out from Gabriele D'Annunzio's head, Italian poet and novelist, her lover and friend for few dozen of years until she's sent him last note asking for money and that note has never been answered until D'Annunzio's death. 
Luisa went a step forward. She not only created herself, she created from basics, her surroundings. 

She liked to:
- have servants dwarfs, usually black, and paint them in white and dress in gold clothes
- dye birds, black pigeons or white peacock
- all animals, she basically owned a zoo in her villa, in her every single villa
- stuff her beloved animals that reached the time of death
- choose dogs to suit her dress, f.ex. grey or black foxhound
- electronic toys, she had an electric tiger welcoming guests, lightning and making sound
- do some drugs
- stay in bed, in full make up and fully dressed having drinks for breakfast
'she found Marchesa in bed, fully made up in the old vamp style, covered with a rug of black ostrich feathers, eating a breakfast of fried fish and drinking straight Pernod while trying on a newspaper scarf.'
- wear heavy make up; black eyes - sometimes she glued pieces of velvet to her eyelids, red lips, white skin and all this with red burning hair - till the end of her time
- visit unexpectedly first painters, then photographers and ask for a portrait or a photo
- dress in orient, Alladin pants, gold and huge pointy hats.
- have plenty of lovers who never compete with each other
- have her interiors all in white or all in black 
- organize amazing balls ended with her I'm-naked walk through her gardens with fleet of guests fallowing her
- occultism, source of beloved Black and purple flowers together

Her marriage has been only a fiction. Her only daughter has spent her life first in catholic school, later busy with her husband.
Luisa's granddaughter knew it's forbidden to title her grandma 'grandma'. Luisa divorced in her 40s and fought successfully for her title and name; Marchesa Luisa Casati.
'She wasn't beautiful - she was spectacular.'
She became a Muse of her epoque. 
Never predictable; 'if the public can predict you, it starts to like you'. That's the last thing she wanted. Her goal was to incite. And through all this extravaganza she was very shy person. 
Never had a good hand for money. She ended in poverty and tried to squeeze money from all friends and people she's met. 

'The Marchesa seemed to have a genuine horror of money. One day , one of her younger friends, Cecil Beaton, admired the collages that she amused herself by making out of old engravings. Like everything the Marchesa touched, these 'scraps, had a strange charm. He proposed that she prepare an exhibit of them ... but the moment she had to work toward a lucrative end, inspiration fled, and the Marchesa touched her scissors no more.'

'In today's age, everyone must be useful, independent, practical. To that I say, 'What a tremendous bore!'' Quentin Crisp.

Galliano, in his great times, inspired by Casati created most amazing pieces for Dior.

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