With these words, we wish to anticipate the solstice of the new season.
Where are we? A few kilometres from the Italian studios of the brand, in Venice.
The city that, many say, “does not let anyone touch it”.
Yet it is vibrant with stories that sail the seas to reach it, this city retains the intimacy of a woman we chase but does not seem to want to show itself. Yet she smiles, yet she inspires us.
Venice is a woman, with its fish-shaped structure reminiscent of the tail of a sinuous mermaid gently lying in the shallow waters of the Lagoon. Too often, when the history of Venice is told, it is always about male figures: many doges and patriarchs, travelers, writers and artists, unrepentant seducers. There is never any mention of excellent female figures who have written extraordinary pages of history, ancient and modern.
The women of Venice have always distinguished themselves for intelligence and elegance: at the time of the Republic they were considered the most refined aristocrats, wearing elegant and sumptuous clothes, always complemented by precious jewels and make-up that made the lips sinuous and the looks intriguing. History, yesterday and today, teaches us how Venetian women had great self-love and respect for themselves, fundamental characteristics for living in a world of men, without being dominated by it.
On the occasion of the celebration on March 8 of the International Women’s Day, we from Là Fuori want to tell a woman who has lived and profoundly marked this city, for elegance and eccentricity, namely the Marchesa Luisa Casati.
The divine Marchesa, from cotton to a fashion icon
Luisa Amman was born in Milan in 1881 into a very rich family, as her father was a cotton producer. She and her sister Francesca inherited the huge family patrimony in adolescence, due to the untimely death of their parents, and soon began to be enchanted by the luxurious and princely life. She soon manifested a strong and eccentric personality.
Her androgynous aspect of her, her slender and lean physique, her penetrating and brazen gaze always attracted the attention of those around her. Little more than she of age, she chose to marry the Marquis Camillo Casati Stampa di Soncino, becoming the Marquise Luisa Casati Stampa. But she discovered very quickly that the quiet life of her wife and mother did not agree with her free and rebellious soul to the stereotypes of the time. Only after 10 years of marriage did she choose to leave Milan to move to Venice and fully experience her eccentric and nonconformist spirit. He bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal (now the Guggenheim Museum): in the villa he held sumptuous parties and dances that attracted prominent personalities from every corner of the world, and populated the garden with exotic animals, such as albino blackbirds, ocelots, parrots, boas and a cheetah that the Marchesa loved to take for a walk with a diamond and precious stone leash, which inspired a famous jewel by Cartier, of which the woman was a loyal customer.
Luisa really liked to show her extravagance, that being over the top, off the screens that made her one of the most emblematic and iconic characters of the time, and the availability of a huge heritage allowed her to satisfy her every whim. She was self-centered and wanted to feel the passionate eyes of the people on her: one of her most unique habits was to walk in the evening in Piazza San Marco, naked, covered only in a fur cloak covered for a leash her cheetah, while a faithful servant followed her with a torch so that it was illuminated in the darkness of the night and admired by passers-by.
The greatest stylists of the time competed to create tailor-made dresses: she always wore pleated tunics, long peplums, animated patterns and often wore soaring headdresses with structures, then enriched with stones and feathers, which made her a real own fashion icon of the time. But she was a woman who also invested heavily in haute couture, paying huge sums of money without any problems for the best fabrics, such as the one with which the famous “queen of the night” dress by couturier Bakst was made, which she wore to a Parisian masquerade ball, diamond-clad completion!
She was also distinguished by her bizarre make-up, such as the black circle that was drawn around her green eyes, whose pupils were always dilated with a few drops of belladonna and adorned with very long false eyelashes, for a bewitching look. Obviously, the powder that whitened her complexion, then illuminated by the fiery red lipstick, was a must.
The most portrayed woman of the time
An intelligent woman of great culture, she always surrounded herself with the most culturally visible characters of her, becoming the muse of great artists such as Giovanni Boldini who loved her Luciferian and saturated with her anguish, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Man Ray. Their fragmentation indoctrinated her to a profound knowledge of art, later becoming an important and appreciated collector. But her aim was to become a work of art herself and for this reason she loved being the subject of paintings, sculptures and photographs, by the great artists she knew or by young talents she was discovering.
Gabriele D’Annunzio with whom she lived a long clandestine love affair, being she still married to the Marquis. The poet loved her madly, letting himself be inspired by many of her works.
Casati’s unbridled luxury did not last forever and in the last years of her life she left Venice for London, where in 1957 she died in total misery.
The Marchesa Casati was not an artisan but a privileged voice outside the choir.
She is a lover of fashion, a creative with a thousand resources.
She is on the road too, a nomad with us.
Or at least we like to think so.
“The women of the world today dress the same way. They are like so many loaves. To be beautiful you have to be calm. Personality is necessary. There is too much uniformity. The world seems to want only something similar. To be different is to be alone”
cit. Marchesa Luisa Casati