November 8, 2010


I was reseaching Fortuny silk lighting for a project tonight when this image below of this painting of a woman dressed in black appeared on my google search. Intrigued, I discovered the painting was of Marchesa Luisa Casati, who during the early twentieth century was Europe's most extravagant and eccentric celebrity. Marchesa was considered to be "the most scandalous woman of her time". She was dressed by Fortuny, painted by great artists such as Giovanni Boldini, photographed my Man Ray, the subject of Jack Kerouac poems.... Marchesa inspired the infamous panther design for Cartier and influenced modern day designers such as John Galliano.

Marchesa Luisa Casti threw elaborate parties in her Venetian palazzo where she dressed in eccentric costumes, adorned in jewels and live snakes. In the evening, she would stroll naked beneath her fur coat while walking a cheetah on a jeweled leash.

Sadly, her lavish lifestyle left her penniless and twenty-five million dollars in debt. Marchesa died at the age of seventy-six. Her grave reads,  "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety." -Shakespeare

Chanel said, "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.". Marchesa knew this to be true. To be different means you will be loved and hated, adored and criticized. It brings to mind, designer, Kelly Wearstler. I think Kelly is a great talent. I love many of her design projects while others just don't speak to me. What I always admire about Kelly as a designer is her fearlessness and committment to always putting forth her unique point of view. I think this quote is perfect to wrap this up,

“Well-behaved women rarely make history”. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Photo: Artist, Giovanni Boldini of Marchesa Luisa Casati

Photo: Marchesa Luisa Casati via google images

Photo: Harper's Bazaar , Georgina Chapman as Marchesa Luisa Casati
Chapman is the co-founder of the fashion label, Marchesa

Photos: Harper's Bazaar Georgina Chapman as Marchesa Luisa Casati
Designer, Kelly Wearstler

Photo: Designer, Kelly Wearstler via

Photos: Kelly Wearstler via google images
You can go to the official website below to read more about legendary, Marchesa Casati.

Rachel Hazelton is an Interior Designer from Middleton, MA with design projects in Andover, MA, North Andover, MA, Lynnfield, MA, Boxford, MA, Topsfield, MA, Boston's North Shore and throughout New England.

1 comment:

New England Fine Living said...

Very sexy and chic photos. Just like your designs. Very inspiring.