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

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53 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh, I like that Dexter cushion.

  2. All Pekinese dogs should be stuffed…..ideally at birth.

    • Affer!!

      • i love dogs, but absolutely agree that the only good Pekinese is a stuffed one!

      • I have a lot of stuffed huskies (toys, not formerly real) who would argue with you, saying THAT isn’t even a useful condition for them……

      • why do you have a collection of stuffed huskies John?

      • Why not? 😀 It just kinda happened. I had a couple, named Attu and Kiska after the two Aleutian Islands invaded during World War 2, and somehow, I just kept buying ones I’d stumble across. I ran out of island names a long time ago, and some even came named. (You can NOT change a stuffy’s name if they come with one. It confuses and depresses them.) I even have a foursome of Husqvarna collectibles. (They’re a small-gas-engine power-tool manufacturer, primarily of chainsaws, and use a Husky for their mascot.)
        Aren’t you sorry you asked now? 😉

      • Nope 🙂

      • Well, since designer breeding has rendered them pretty much stuffed-up they may just die out.

  3. Lady Gaga, eat your heart out…

    • My thoughts exactly!

  4. And she’s been reincarnated as Lady Gaga …
    I’ve missed your daily dose of the bizarre, Myra. Glad to be back.

    • … and again!

  5. Every time I read one of these , my own insanity and that of close friends seems so insignificant. Thank you.

    • aren’t we all at least a tiny bit insane at times?

  6. My goodness, how on earth did she get through that much dosh? Has the TG been fibbing to me about the cost of make-up?

    • Yes make up is extremely expensive. Use it wisely.

  7. What is with Palazzo Venier dei Leoni denizens getting buried with micro mutts? Peggy Guggenheim is planted in the joint’s garden, beside fourteen of her, ummm, favourite ex-Lhasa Apsos

    • Ooh what a great link

      • I might’ve asked for finders’ fees if it weren’t public domain, already. ma’am. Peggy G. would blend right into the Gimcrack’s exclusive client list…

  8. I thought that Alice Cooper was the first person to use snakes as a fashion statement. The older I get, the more I realize that nothing is original.

    • I know what you mean. When I was in the ER with my son the other night I was surrounded by medical staff with red, pink, violet, green and blue streaks in their hair. It was almost like a uniform

  9. I’ve sat with some wax mannequins at dinner tables in my time…boring…
    How does one amass a $25 million debt??!! Even if I started now, don’t think I could manage it – I lack the expensive eccentricities.

    • Even back then the big banks lent money indiscriminately

  10. My boa de-constricting has been known to cause a bit of pandemonium from time to time… A shame the Queen was too fatigued to attend the reptile park the other week, what fun we had!

    Another fun post NM

    The King

    • Oh my Lord….. *thud*

  11. Charming lady, obviously a patron of the RSPCA

    • Perhaps that’s where all her money went…..

  12. I am in awe of anyone who can rack up a debt of $25 million! Nude servants apparently don’t come cheap!

    • I suppose it gets easier after the first million

  13. I would have loved to attend one of her parties! I think I know next year’s Halloween costume.

    • What’s this years?

  14. Would appreciate any tips on how to keep the snake jewelery on – mine keep slipping off.

    I’ve been missing you too Nursey. xx

    • They have to be long enough for a slip knot 😉

  15. I was actually thinking a wax dinner guest would be perfect. I’m not one for small talk and we would probably get along quite well.

  16. Madam will you keep your jewellery under control. It’s just eaten my poodle….

  17. I always include a few wax mannequins at my dinner parties. They’re so much better behaved, don’t eat too much and never make a fuss about a few cheetahs, boa constrictors and stuffed pekinese dogs.

  18. Live snakes are rich eccentricity, but dead snakes are redneck boots. Fascinating.
    And knowing some of the rednecks around here, the wax mannequins would be MUCH more entertaining. And neat, even if they do melt occasionally and drop ash. Better than cigarette butts!

  19. I’d like to know how she wasted all her money. Was she like Nicolas Cage, buying islands and castles and expensive crap? Probably.

  20. How do you wear a dead chicken as a stole? It doesn’t seem like something that would wrap very well. Plus, it would probably fall off.

    • She must have had very narrow shoulders

  21. I’ve gotta get that pillow.

  22. I never feel properly dressed when we go out in the evening, but perhaps that chicken blood idea will make all the difference. All I need is a sharp knife, an Australorp and someone willing to hold it and I shall be the belle of Canberra at last. Shall I send photographs or are you happy to just skim through the Canberra Times social pages until you find me?

    • Send photos!!!!

  23. $25 million in 1930 would be like, a gajillion dollars today! Apparently nude servants were pricey even back then.

  24. That Nicolas Cage is a strange one – he asked LM Presley to call him ‘Daddy’ – eww.

    I hope your son has recovered from pneumonia, Nursemyra

    • He’s starting to get better now, though it’s rather a slow road to recovery. Thanks for your concern.

  25. First picture is wonderful! The wax one is more creepy than wonderful. 🙂

    • Yes I like the first photo too

  26. I imagine she wasn’t the most beloved resident at the Paris Ritz, with her escaped snakes and all.

  27. How bizarre…all this fascination with animals and parts of them. She sounds unwell.

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