Ballet history is rich in astonishing muses, but there are none like the Marchesa Luisa Casati. “I want to be a living work of art,” said the woman who emerged at the Fin de siècle with cavernous kohl-rimmed eyes, moonstruck skin and a flame-tinted Medusa coiffure. The Milanese heiress and socialite possessed an outré style which has inspired countless artists, writers and designers, including Marcel Proust, Jack Kerouac, Man Ray and Karl Lagerfeld. Infinite Variety: the Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati chronicles her extravagant quest for the extraordinary in all its rococo richness. The authors, Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Yaccarino, explore the making of an icon who remains unsurpassed in her eccentricity.
Casati was inspired by artists from a young age, and for her dressing up was the chief embodiment of her creative vision, a type of living theatre, where there was no discernible difference between costumes and clothes. This idea extended to all aspects of her surroundings: her houses were exquisitely decorated temples of decadence, and even the song-birds in the gardens were hand-dyed to match her colour schemes. (more…)