The Marchesa Casati: “I want to be a living work of art….”

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Marchesa Luisa Casati, photographed by Man Ray

“Follia rossa” by Beatrice Brandini

“Age can not wither     Neither the habit make tasteless     Her infinite truth “.

this epitaph chosen by her granddaughter in honor of her aunt, the same description that Shakespeare had Cleopatra.

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The Marchesa Casati by Augustus Edwin John, 1919

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The Marchesa Casati with a costume designed by Leon Baskt “Queen of the Night” . Paris 1922 

The Marchesa Casati is one of the most eccentric of the twentieth century, the one that inspired such artists as Giovanni Boldini, Kees Van Dogen, Giacomo Balla, Man Ray, Cecil Beaton, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Fortunato Depero, eager to get herself a work of art, through a wild and bizarre life, and an appearance decidedly unusual. For this reason, even today, is a muse for fashion and art, as well as the symbol of a strong woman, free and rebel, especially for the time.

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The Marchesa Casati painted by Giovanni Boldini, 1908

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Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Giovanni Boldini, 1914. Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Rome 

Luisa Casati was born in Milan from a rich family, the parents are the owners of the cotton mill Amman, is getting married then with the marquis Camillo Casati Soncino, but, as often happens in people so blatantly rich, despise money throughout her life, making a careless and excessive use.  As well as one of her best pastimes is to subvert the rules (we are in full dandyism, a movement that had of not sobriety its greatest belief system), to amaze and to shock. She wore clothes that were of “compositions” artistic, pythons wore around her neck as if they were real necklaces, jaguars walking with a leash, as if that were not enough, necks collars studded with diamonds. Famous for her parties and her dwellings, especially that of Venice, Peggy Guggenheim foundation today.

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The Marchesa Casati photographed by Adolph De Meyer 1912

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The Marchesa Luisa Casati with her boa 

Protagonist of the intellectual and social life of the time, friend, muse and enchantress of some of the most interesting minds like D’Annunzio, Marinetti, Cocteau. From the meeting with D’Annunzio came a relationship that, unlike many who cultivated the poet,  was differed with respect to duration, the two are not separated ever at all. This rapport changes the Marquise also from the esthetics point of view, this time she will create a kind of mask, inspired by the heroines who had enchanted in her youth, like Sarah Bernhardt or the Countess of Castiglione. Bright red hair, carefully disheveled, eyes rimmed in black leather and increasingly diaphanous made from powders such coatings.

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The Marchesa Casati with a dress by Paul Poiret, 1920 

Her biggest inspiration was surprising, especially through itself, but also in her travels, in her mansion, her parties. Often naked or wrapped only in her silk robe, melodramatic.  It is said that on her Venetian walks,  walked accompanied by a cheetah on a leash, and a dove and it seems that the animal ate only if really hungry. At the end even folded into a panther automatic which,  through an internal mechanism, roared and moved.  Jean Cocteau said of her: “It was no more than like it or not, nor to impress. It was astounding”.

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The Marchesa Casati in a photo by Man Ray portrait “magic” of 1922. Double Eyes, look for a pair, the other to be watched.

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Tilda Swinton photographed by Paolo Roversi for Acne Magazine, interprets the Marchesa Casati

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Tilda Swinton photographed by Paolo Roversi for Acne Magazine, interprets the Marchesa Casati

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Tilda Swinton photographed by Paolo Roversi for Acne Magazine, interprets the Marchesa Casati

The last years of her life were marked by the ruins, especially economic, which also became physical and moral. Squandered a fortune on parties, celebrations and in life full of follies. She had auctioned all her possessions so you get to pay creditors with jewels and precious objects; prey to moneylenders, shopkeepers and taxi drivers paid with emeralds and diamonds. Debt-ridden Italy and France, was forced to migrate to England and then retreat to London. But despite all did not change the character and, above all, the attitude towards life. She continued to dye their hair red, use wax to bistrarsi eyes (the trick was too expensive) and to add shine and belladonna to dilate her wonderful eyes. Calling friends and asking them: “I have ten shillings in the bag. I’m doing a bottle of wine or a ride in a taxi? “. This was the Marchesa Casati.

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Carine Roitfeld, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld for the New Yorker, 2003 

She died in 1957 and was buried with her black cloak trimmed with leopard with the painted face in her own way, false eyelashes and dark eyes, a stuffed Pekinese at the foot.

Georgina Chapman photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar, 2009

s Moment Georgina Chapman as Marchesa Casati Linbergh Bazaar March 2009 4    s Moment Georgina Chapman as Marchesa Casati Linbergh Bazaar March 2009 3

Georgina Chapman photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar, 2009

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Chanel Resort Collection 2010, inspired by the Marchesa Casati

Thinking about her appearance at a costume ball at the embassy in Rome, in 1913, dressed completely in gold, with servants in tow as she, painted gold, with a peacock on a leash; or the Paris Opera with a peacock tail on the head and the blood that flowed on one arm (just beheaded a chicken), it is not difficult, for me, to believe that talented eccentric characters like Lady Gaga or Anna dello Russo, artists visionaries and brilliant as La Chapelle or Alexander McQueen, heiress patron, extravagant, as Daphne Guiness, may have also drawn inspiration from her original life.

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The Marchesa Casati in a painting by Kees Van Dongen 

Someone has defined a comet, others only a woman rich and spoiled, extravagant and eccentric …I would have wanted to meet, learn and breathe even for a moment your folly, for me meant FREEDOM, PASSION and CONSISTENCY . Because be the Marchesa Luisa Casati, unlike what might seem, it was not easy . Goodbye Marchesa Luisa Casati, I understood your message!

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A small collection thinking about the Marchesa Casati … by Beatrice Brandini

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A small collection thinking about the Marchesa Casati … by Beatrice Brandini 

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Portrait of the Marchesa Casati made by Léon Bakst 

Good life to all!

Beatrice

2 commenti su “The Marchesa Casati: “I want to be a living work of art….”

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