Sunday, November 29, 2009

MUSEWORTHY: Casati, Luisa, 1881 - 1957





Mad Italian stick-thin, goggle-eyed socialite who tore up Venice in the 1920s and famously proclaimed "I want to be a living work of art!"

Pre-red carpet times, the Marchesa worked the pavements of the style capitals clad in fashion performance pieces that make Isabella Blow's hats look conservative. Try a necklace of live snakes and daubs of chicken's blood for first night at the opera, a custom-made suit of battery operated arrows that short circuited and nearly fried her alive for a ball, or her birthday suit worn dashingly with a full length fur, and accessorised with two pet cheetahs on diamond leashes - just for the hell of it.

Pure theatre made the Marchesa a legend in her prime, and sent her influence down through the ages. Although she died penniless and dressed in rags, the fashion set remembers her as model for Man Ray and Erte, and inspiration for all. Mrs. Harvey Weinstein, a.k.a. Georgina Chapman named her label , Marchesa, after Luisa, and the Chanel make-up team dreamt up a Casati-inspired eye for lagerfeld's Cruise 2010 collection - deliciously dark and smudgy.

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