the original female dandy

Luisa, Marquise Casati Stampa di Soncino (1881 – 1957) was an eccentric Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts in early 20th century Europe.

image found here

“A celebrity and femme fatale, the marchesa’s famous eccentricities dominated and delighted European society for nearly three decades. She astonished society by parading with a pair of leashed cheetahs and wearing live snakes as jewellery. During a stay at the Paris Ritz, one of her boa constrictors escaped, causing much consternation among other guests and staff.

image found here

In 1910 Casati took up residence at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on Grand Canal in Venice (now the home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection). Her soirées there would become legendary. Casati collected a menagerie of exotic animals, and patronized fashion designers such as Fortuny and Poiret. Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her. Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table, some of them even rumoured to contain the ashes of past lovers.

wax mannequin found here

She was tall and thin, with a pale, almost cadaverous face. Her huge green eyes were flanked by false eyelashes, slathered with black kohl, and she regularly used belladonna eyedrops to dilate her pupils. It is said that she once wore a freshly-killed chicken as a stole, and that on a separate occasion, she had her driver kill a chicken and pour the blood down her long white arms so that it dried in a pattern which pleased her.

blood spatter cushion found here

In 1896 she was one of the wealthiest women in Europe but by 1930, Casati had amassed a personal debt of $25 million. She fled to London, where she lived in comparative poverty and was rumoured to be seen rummaging in bins searching for feathers to decorate her hair. She died at her last residence, 32 Beaufort Gardens in Knightsbridge, on 1 June 1957, aged 76.

image found here

Casati was buried wearing not only her black and leopardskin finery but a pair of false eyelashes as well. She also shared her coffin with a stuffed pekinese dog.

Taxidermied Pekingese found here

party preferences

Which of the following parties do you think sounds like it was the most fun? This Parisian ball……

“At a costume ball in Paris in the 1920s Lucien Daudet appeared as Spectre de la Rose. At the end of the evening the effete Daudet was stark naked. The guests had plucked the rose petals his devoted mother had sown onto his tights, and eventually the tights disappeared along with the roses. Jean Godebska came as a house of cards and his friend Radiguet as a shooting gallery while the Princess Soutzo was a Christmas tree. 

Princess Soutzo found here

Jean Hugo attended as a waiter carrying a large tray. On it was perched the Maharani of Kapurthala, disguised as caviar. Hugo was somewhat tipsy and let the tray drop. When the maharenee almost fell to the floor, the maharajah was heard to mutter, “In India he would have been put to death at once.”

Maharani found here

The Duchess de Gramont organised an entrance that represented the beheading of John the Baptist. Dressed in the black costume of an executioner, she appeared carrying  a platter with a wooden head of John the Baptist that looked suspiciously like the party’s host. As Salome, the Prince de Chimay covered his face with veils but liberally exposed the shapely legs he was so proud of. Hiding all evening in a bedroom like children at a costume party, they missed Marie Laurencin as Malade Imaginaire attended by a friend dressed as measles, with red spots painted on his face.

Le Malade Imaginaire found here

Or would you prefer to attend P Diddy’s soiree?

On Thursday, August 29th, 2002 – P. Diddy and Guy Oseary celebrated the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards with a post party in New York City’s exclusive Cipriani’s. “It was top shelf and caviar all the way” said one guest. 

image found here

Attending celebrities received a gift basket valued at over $25,000 which included an exclusive Surf Camp t shirt and a week at Surf Camp. The drawback was the “party policy,” which included an amusing–some might call it obscene–set of guidelines re: scuffed shoes, haircuts, and clothing (though someone should have told Puffy that Mr. Dolce’s partner spells his surname “Gabbana”). “Pull out the flyest shit in your closet” Puffy said. “Women must be waxed, pedicured and manicured to the hilt.”

$32,000 manicure found here

And one final instruction….. P.S. Do not disturb the sexy.

click to enlarge or read at the original source here

erotic engineering

Porte-jarretelles, known in the US as a garter belt and in the UK as a suspender belt, is a machine of modest dimensions, designed to hold up women’s stockings. Suspended from a belt that runs around the waist are four strips of elastic fabric that reach out to grab both stockings by the cuff.

For a secure connection to be made, however, an intermediary connective device had to be invented, one that could hold a soft, fragile fabric that was sensitive to strong tensile forces. The problem was complex and multifaceted. Stockings made of silk were extremely delicate and would fare badly if attached to a rigid device. Additionally, there is much stretching and friction in that particular region of the human body, not to mention the considerable strain caused by the independent movement of the legs.

The resulting device consisted of a bottom plate covered with elastic cloth; at the tip of this plate sat a small button, over the top of which would slide a gynomorphic steel-wire clasp. The cloth for the clasp came in three colors: white, black, and pink. In deluxe models, a satin ribbon was folded over the mechanism, mainly for aesthetic reasons, but also to prevent overlaying clothing from getting entangled.

This solution was a piece of engineering so brilliant that later connoisseurs of fashion and historians of engineering and technology reasoned that only the greatest engineer of them all—Gustave Eiffel—could have been its inventor. Therefore a story, as unimaginative as it was apocryphal, began to circulate: that Eiffel’s wife suffered from sagging stockings and that the great man, in a moment of marital understanding, sat down at the kitchen table and drew a sketch of a new device—a garter belt designed around the famous slip-clasp.

I found the above information about my favourite lingerie item after typing “Erotic Engineering” into google. It’s an intriguing phrase also encountered here in an article written by John Ryle and published in the Guardian in 1998

The RuPaul lookalike in a lace microskirt plying his trade on the Avenida Augusto Severo in downtown Rio is one of the wonders of the world. His eyelashes are like spider’s webs; his hair, straightened and dyed, tumbles to his shoulders; his decolletage would put Pamela Anderson to shame. And there are others. They are wearing satin hot-pants, leather bikinis and denim cut-offs, carmine lipstick and six-inch heels: all the dress-sense of international hookerdom.

Ru Paul found here

During carnival in Rio, men en travesti are highly visible, on the street, in the pages of glossy magazines, and on the floats of some minor samba schools. There are even carnival groups that parade entirely in drag. These are mostly amateurs, though, out for the day. They would not want to be called travestis, a word that, in Brazilian Portuguese, normally implies a sex worker. For professional travestis the partial inversion of social order that is one of the features of carnival – and the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure that accompanies it – are a year-round phenomenon.

Travesti found here

Hormones and injections of silicone simulate female secondary characteristics. Nips and tucks do the rest. What travestis do not go in for are sex-change operations. Such operations are illegal anyway in Brazil, despite its reputation as the world capital of cosmetic surgery. But this is not why travestis don’t go the whole way; it is because, by their account – and there is no other available source of information – their clients are looking for a sexual partner who is neither male nor female, but a paradoxical combination of the two, a sexual chimera, a fantasy of polymorphous perversity, with the look and feel of the feminine and the penetrative capacity of the male.

image found here

There’s a book about this, just published in Brazil, called Erotic Engineering, an assemblage of photographs and interviews with travestis – and one or two of their mothers. I was sitting on the plane home reading it. It’s a curious book, halfway between a medical text and a chat-show transcript, with pictures to make your eyebrow stud rattle. It certainly kept my neighbour’s elbow off the armrest.

image found here

the Baroness balances a birthday cake

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1875-1927) was known as the Queen of the Dada Movement.

Elsa found here

Her father, a mason, sexually and physically abused her in her childhood. She practiced prostitution, and had numerous affairs with both men and women throughout her lifetime, including the writer Djuna Barnes.

Djuna found here

Elsa married August Endell in April 1901 but by 1903 she had left him for his friend Felix Greve. In July 1909, Greve disappeared from Germany after staging his own suicide. Elsa played a part in the faked suicide, she sent a letter to his publishers accusing them of working her late husband to death. He sailed from Liverpool to Montreal, where he renamed himself. Later, as the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove, he described staging his death and reinventing himself in his first autobiography. 

Felix Greve found here

It is unclear how Elsa made her way to New York. However, it was there she met and married Baron Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven, the black sheep of his illustrious family, in November 1913. Through her marriage to Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven she became a Baroness but little is known about their relationship. Baron von Loringhoven hurried back to Germany at the outbreak of the war and then, not liking war, shot himself – an act which his wife characterized as the bravest of his life. 

black sheep found here

From 1917 on, she published a fair amount of her mostly Expressionist and sometimes Dada-style poetry in various magazines. She also created “ready made” sculptures and collages from random items she stole or salvaged from the trash. Her most famous “ready made” is the plumbing pipe irreverently called “God”

God found here

By the early 1920s, von Freytag-Loringhoven had become a living legend in Greenwich Village. Often arrested for her revealing costumes and ongoing habit of stealing anything that caught her eye, she “leaped from patrol wagons with such agility that policemen let her go in admiration“. She continued to pose for artists, and appeared in a short film made by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp descriptively titled The Baroness Shaves Her Pubic Hair.

Duchamp and Ray playing chess found here

Margaret Anderson vividly recalls the Baroness’ first entrance into the Little Review’s office: “So she shaved her head. Next she lacquered it a high vermilion. Then she stole crêpe from a house of mourning and made a dress of it. She came to see us. First she exhibited the head at all angles, amazing against our black walls. Then she jerked the crepe with one movement. It’s better when I’m nude, she said.”

Elsa found here

When many of her friends moved to Paris after the First World War, von Freytag-Loringhoven tried desperately to join them. Eventually she returned to Berlin in April 1923 – a time when inflation of the German currency was at its worst. She was reduced to selling newspapers on a street corner of the Kurfüstendamm in the winter of 1923–1924 and was a more or less permanent inmate of several insane asylums. Her outrageous blackmail attempts and demanding propositions to André Gide, George Bernard Shaw, and perhaps other celebrities for living expenses did little to keep her out of trouble. Her notoriously elaborate costumes were not of much help either. In an undated letter to Djuna Barnes, von Freytag-Loringhoven describes an ensemble she wore to the French Embassy in Germany:

Andre Gide found here

“I went to the consulate with a large, wide sugarcoated birthday cake upon my head with fifty flaming candles lit – I felt just so spunky and affluent! In my ear I wore sugar plumes or matchboxes – I forget which. Also I had put on several stamps as beauty spots on my emerald-painted cheeks and my eyelashes were made of gilded porcupine quills – rustling coquettishly – at the consul – with several ropes of dried figs dangling around my neck to give him a suck once and again – to entrance him. I should have liked to wear gaudy colored rubber boots up to my hips with a ballet skirt of genuine gold paper with lace paper covering it (to match the cake) – but I couldn’t afford that! I guess that inconsistency in my costume is to blame for my failure to please the officials?

Cake Head found here

The true circumstances of von Freytag-Loringhoven’s death are still unclear. On December 14, 1927, she died of asphyxiation when the gas in her room at the Rue Barrault was left on overnight.

show me your bottom

In London between 1788 and 1790, up to fifty women claimed to have been attacked by a man who became known as the London Monster.

According to the victims (most of them from wealthier families), a large man had followed them, shouted obscenities and stabbed them in the buttocks. Some reports claimed an attacker had knives fastened to his knees. Other accounts reported that he would invite prospective victims to smell a fake nosegay and then stab them in the nose with the spike hiding within the flowers.

image found here

When people realised that the Monster attacked mainly beautiful women, some women claimed that they had been attacked to gain attention and sympathy. Armed vigilantes set out to patrol the city. Fashionable ladies began to wear copper pans over their petticoats.

image found here

On June 13, 1790, Anne Porter claimed she had spotted her attacker in St. James’s Park. Her admirer, John Coleman, pursued the man, who realised he was being followed. When Rhynwick Williams, an unemployed 23-year-old, reached his house, Coleman confronted him, accusing him of insulting a lady, and took Williams to meet Porter, who fainted when she saw him.

Williams protested his innocence but, given the climate of panic, it was futile. He admitted that he had once approached Porter but had an alibi for another of the attacks. Magistrates charged Williams with defacing clothing — a crime that in the Bloody Code carried harsher penalty than assault or attempted murder

slashed dress found here

Despite the fact that a number of alleged victims gave contradictory stories and that coworkers testified that he had an alibi for the most famous attack, Williams was convicted on three counts and sentenced to two years each, for a total of six years in prison.

His time spent behind bars was not entirely wasted: he fathered a child who was conceived whilst Williams was imprisoned. He later married the mother of his child on release.

In Paris, in 1819, a similar series of attacks took place

Stabbers, or piquers, were attacking women in the streets, cutting their buttocks with sharp rapiers fastened to canes or umbrellas. There was widespread alarm and it was recommended that married women be accompanied by their husbands at all times and those without husbands should wear bottom protectors. 

bottom protector found here

Police agents and private piquer hunters dressed up as women to tempt the villains to attack but they had no luck. Twenty prostitutes were employed as decoys, they were to walk through Paris followed by policemen in plain clothes. In spite of these bizarre promenades no piquer was caught;  even though over 880 francs had been spent on the harlots and their wine allowance.

Paris prostitutes found here

At the same time, the Madchenschneider, or Girl-Cutter, of Augsberg, began a long and bloody career. Again , several women were cut across the legs or buttocks, apparently without motive. A 37 year old wine merchant was caught after a reign of terror lasting 18 years. 

Another series of attacks took place in Strasbourg in 1880, a man in a dark cloak assaulted respectable women in the streets late in the evening, wounding their breasts or genitals with a sharp instrument. When 29 year old hairdresser, Theophil Mary, was finally arrested, he had clocked up 35 victims. 

Strasbourg Cathedral found here

In July 1894, a French youth was arrested for cutting the buttocks of a large number of young girls in broad daylight. The 19 year old was described as a beardless youth with a timid embarrassed manner. He described how he had, ever since the age of 15, felt a high degree of excitement whenever he saw a woman’s buttocks. 

click image above to play

In Chicago in 1906, a manhunt began for “Jack the Cutter” who stabbed the buttocks of seven females in just one day alone. In the same year, “Jack the Stabber” ran amok in St Louis, also stabbing female bottoms. In 1925 the hunt was on for another American attacker, “The Connecticut Jabber.”

In 1977, “Jack the Snipper” was active on the London Underground. Before the London Transport Police put an end to his fun, he had cut 17 skirts from behind, and exposed their wearers’ backsides to all viewers.  

In 1984, according the The News of the World, a very short and stunted man had attacked nine women in Birmingham, stabbing them in the buttocks. In 1985, this pint sized pervert was still at large…… 

image found here

the party of the century

Don Carlos de Beistegui y de Yturbe (1895 – 17 January 1970), was an eccentric multi-millionaire art collector and interior decorator and one of the most flamboyant characters of mid-20th century European life. His ball at the Palazzo Labia in Venice in 1951, an event so extravagant it was criticised by the Vatican, is still described as “the party of the century”. He was often referred to as “The Count of Monte Cristo”

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In the early 1930s, he had a penthouse built on the Champs-Élysées, designed by Le Corbusier. It included an electronically operated hedge that parted to reveal a view of the Arc de Triomphe, and a roof terrace designed by Salvador Dalí.

image found here

In 1948, Beistegui acquired the Palazzo Labia, just off the Grand Canal in Venice, and began an intensive restoration. He purchased frescoes by Raphael, Annibale Carracci, and Guido Reni. These works of art, coupled with tapestries and antiques, restored the palazzo to its former splendour. So avid a collector was Don Carlos that his taste became known as “le goût Beistegui” (the Beistegui style). It was said that, in order to avoid the clatter of dishwashing at parties, he frequently ordered his soiled gold tableware thrown into the canal at the end of each course. (The ugly gossip was that he had laid a stout fish net on the canal bottom beforehand.)

image found here

On 3 September 1951 Beistegui held a masked costume ball. It was one of the largest and most lavish social events of the 20th century. The invitations went out six months beforehand. The guest list included the Aga Khan III, Barbara Hutton, Gene Tierney, Orson Welles, Gala Dalí and many others. 

image of guests at the ball found here

Christian Dior and Salvador Dalí designed each other’s costumes. Winston Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were invited but did not attend. Many who would have liked to have been invited were not. The host wore scarlet robes and a long curling wig, and his normal height (5 ft. 6 in.) was raised a full 16 inches by platform soles. Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the ball display an almost surreal society, reminiscent of the Venetian life immediately before the fall of the republic at the end of the 18th century. The “party of the century” launched the career of Pierre Cardin, who designed about 30 of the costumes. Nina Ricci was another designer who was involved.

Pierre Cardin shoes found here

Champagne, lobsters, ballets, minuets, rumbas, sambas, Charlestons and a troupe of acrobats diverted the guests in the palace until dawn. In the courtyard, lordly Don Carlos had provided a special party for the common folk, including soft drinks, which they paid for, a free Punch & Judy show, and a contest to see who could climb to the top of a greased pole.

 

image found here

Despite this colossal extravagance and the enormously high-profile guest list he was able to attract, Beistegui did not generally warm to people, nor they to him. He remained personally aloof and shadowy, and was often accused of treating his friends and mistresses very poorly. He never married, and although he was said to have had many mistresses, his sexuality was the subject of speculation. A certain duchess was said to have been his illegitimate daughter….

not this duchess

Corsets in Chicago

Thanks to daisyfae, while in Chicago we stayed at the almost-too-hip-for-its-own-good-hotel, The Wit. Floor to ceiling windows on the 24th floor with gorgeous views of architectural delights. And two televisions back to back in case we wanted to watch different channels from the bed or the couch. Actually, I think we only turned the tv on once, most of our down time in the room was spent playing banagrams, sleeping and taking corset photos. We discovered  daisyfae’s pretty turquoise number on St Mark’s Place, NYC and my red leather lace up came from a vintage store in Chicago’s WickerPark.

 

the suite even came with its own chaise lounge

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 2:36 am  Comments (46)  
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corset friday nyc

Hey, it’s Friday and we managed to get a corset shot done in time! Head on over to daisyfae’s to see her version. We’re having a ball in NYC, chasing the sweltering heat away with frozen margaritas and two hour siestas every day. Thanks to everyone who’s been leaving Chicago suggestions in the comments. I’m not sure we’ll fit everything into the four days we have there but we’ll try…..

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm  Comments (35)  
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the Russian view of hobbyists

The title says it all. Found here

“normal, cheerful John” found here

It is known about John Travolta that before he has become a collector, he was a normal, cheerful lad that did all with appetite: ate, rescued and loved his wife Kelly Preston. But once upon a time Travolta has bought a plane – a small storm trooper, which initiated the hasty disease.

more felt celebrities here

Travolta liked the new toy so much, that he has decided to collect the flying machines. The storm trooper was followed by the reactive “Golfstrim”, then “Boing-707″, all in all now he possesses 7 planes! Imagine how much space this collection occupies!

Travolta’s jets found here

And how much money it costs? Last year Travolta ordered to install in each of the airsheds the extremely sensitive cameras and the security system, the central board of which is set into the back of his bed.

more unusual beds here

Robert De Niro’s collection is not so extravagant – it’s just the collection of hats. But, first, there are plenty of them – approximately 500.  Secondly, they are thrown about in disturbance all over the house.

hat found here

De Niro says that it is done deliberately – it’s easier for him to choose the cut, corresponding to his mood. De Niro’s collection is “active” – now and then he puts on one of his hats and wears it. But the most interesting fact is that all of his wives and girlfriends assure that when De Niro puts on one of his hats, his image transforms thoroughly.

Russians are also very fond of cats apparently. They have a museum devoted to the promotion of this love. 

GREAT! Our Museum’s cats were so glad to taste this unusual toy! Very funny for people and very interesting for cats. You can play with your cat and your cat play itself when you are not home (VERY IMPORTANT).

Two mean points:

Cat Dancer can be used as a wand to play with your cat. Just lead and they will chase, leap and run in circles.

Cat Dancer Compleat includes a soft mounting patch to affix Cat Dancer to a wall or other vertical surface so your cat can play when you are not home.

COMMENTS:

“Nordic Track for Cats” – New York Times

Irresistable (sic) exercise machine for fat cats” – The Milwaukee Journal

“…Spontaneous cat aerobics.” – London Daily Mail

“Two paws up!” – Whiskers and Sherbet

The best cat’s idea for lonely day” – MOSCOW CAT MUSEUM

image found here

They also have a “Woman and Cat” Beauty Contest. Elena from Moscow was a top contender but my vote goes to the goth girl with the baleful blackie.

image found here

If you have a feline friend of your own, enter his/her photo in the inaugural  Gimcrackery Cattery Competition. I’ll post a prize to the winner. I can’t guarantee it will have two mean points or deserve an accolade such as a “Nordic Track for Cats” but it could enliven the conversation at your next dinner party…..

Email photos to : rocky5@hotkey.net.au

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 9:34 pm  Comments (50)  
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skewgee décor

Reading old issues of Time Magazine, it seems 1946 was a good year for interesting gossip

Gloria Swanson, svelte survivor of the silent screen and five marriages, survived a New York City taxicab crash that bowled one of the cabs over. Injuries to Siren Swanson: an egg on the brow, a skewgee décor.

Gloria Swanson in her monkey fur cape found here

John Jacob Astor III, 34, plum-shaped posthumous son of the Colonel and half-brother of Vincent, was having a time with the newspapers. They were breaking out all over with photos of a symmetrical 18-year-old girl in suburban Philadelphia, and stuff about her heartbreak. The girl, Virginia Jacobs, called him “Jackims.” He was supposed to have had her on the qui vive since she was 15, but now she could not find him. She said he had talked of marrying her and “going to Paris, where we’d have lots of children” —that is, if he ever got a divorce from Wife No. 2. He had been just too extravagant, Virginia’s mother told the newspapers. Mother had had to put her foot down: “Not mink, I told him. . . . He begged so hard, I finally allowed him to buy her a seven-skin beaver . . . $1,500. . . .” Suddenly the wind shifted. Said lovelorn Virginia to the newspapermen: “I’ve changed my mind.”

Bette Davis rocks a mink

Schiaparelli figured that women would be hobbled much of the time this season. “Nobody will be able to get out of bed before 5 in the afternoon,” said she. “There are practically no dresses designed to wear before that time. . . .”

hobble skirt found here

Paris’ fall fashion shows opened, and Schiaparelli’s outstanding contribution proved to be a bustle—a bustle on almost everything. Molyneux’s favorite colors sounded like sublimations: butter yellow, burnt orange, light mustard. Favorite couturière of the boulevardiers was doubtless Mlle. Alixt: she had daytime dresses with necklines clear to the waistline.

Sophia Loren found here

Princess Juliana of The Netherlands, mother of three, all girls, was again in an interesting condition. As a delicately euphemistic palace announcement put it, the Princess “for a joyful reason has to restrict her activities.” Stolid Netherlanders, under petticoat rule since 1890, started hoping for a royal boy.

Juliana curtailing her duties found here

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