I have decided that the word MUSE is chucked about rather flippantly these days. Do you agree?
Well I tripped over my own amazement when I read about the most remarkable woman in a copy of A Child of A Jago’s free mag. I now feel compelled to tell you all about her.
Grab a cuppa and get cosy for story time has come around again at Worship at the House of Blues.
Marchesa Luisa Casati
Behind those dark kohl smudged eyes, that vermilion lipstick and her lithe haunting image lays a curious tale of a fascinating woman known as Marchesa Luisa Casati. Born in Milan into a wealthy family, she gained her title by marrying into aristocracy.
Casati became known throughout Europe for her flamboyant and bizarre eccentricities, never ceasing to wow and fascinate all that knew of her. For three decades she astounded and influenced artists, poets and writers. In fact she is one of the most artistically represented women in history.
Well, this is the juiciest part of the tale! I need you to kick your imagination in gear OK? Prepare to be stunned:
A woman, naked under her lavish fur coats, promenading down Venice’s streets after midnight. What was she doing? Why walking her cheetahs of course! Upon diamond studded leashes nonetheless.
Her dining table lay host to silent wax mannequins rumoured to be crafted in the likeness of past lovers.
A woman dripping with Lalique designed jewels on one occasion. Ok not sooooo rare but not every woman had directly influenced Cartier!! Yes my dears Casati was the true influence behind the famous panther design.
A woman who wore live snakes as jewellery……..(not something I would hope to replicate!)
A woman attended by naked male servants painted gold.
Picture this ……..
Decadent masked balls in one of her palaces where you might catch a glimpse of her wearing a stole of a freshly killed chicken or you may take a walk in her walled garden to visit her menagerie where you may be subject to a shower of abuse from her verbose parrot. Or perhaps meet her albino crows, boa or ocelot.
IS YOUR MIND BUZZING WITH DELIGHT YET?
And aside from all her outrageous behaviour she was a patron to the arts. She commissioned hundreds of works of her own image. Vanity? Undoubtedly! But also fuelled by her wish for immortality……to be remembered. How could we forget!
Her rampant opulence and outlandish lifestyle accumulated a hefty debt of $25 million. Her estates and personal possessions were auctioned off to appease her debtors. Rumour would have us believe that Coco Chanel was among the bidders. Nevertheless after all was lost and gone Marchesa Luisa Casati fled to London where we lived a meagre lifestyle of a comparatively humble existence.
It is rumoured that she was seen on more than one occasion rummaging through rubbish on a hunt for feathers and other pretty fings to decorate her hair and hats with.
I hear that she lived 32 Beaufort Gardens, South London where she past away on the 1st June 1957. She was buried wearing her black and leopard skin finery, false lashes and one of her taxidermy Pekinese dogs. Her grave is in London and her gravestone aptly reads from Shakespeare:
“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.”
Casati has left her influence on the world of fashion and art and has had Lagerfeld, Gallliano, Dior and many many others citing her in their work.
Marchesa Luisa Casati, is my muse for her devotion to creativity, for her originality, for her boldness. Each time I read about her I find yet another reason to be amazed. Secretly, when I hear her story, I feel a little braver in letting out my eccentricities….
I have heard that her grave is difficult to find. But yet I feel the urge to seek it out……….