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Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati
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Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  31 reviews
For the first three decades of the twentieth century, the Marchesa Casati astounded Europe: nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her; bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table; and she was infamous for her evening strolls, naked beneath her furs, parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leashes. Artists painted, sculpted, and photographed her; poets praise ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 11th 2004 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1999)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  239 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Female dandys
Anyone who was a 'muse' to a lot of artists and would wear incredible outfits and on top of that - have a pet leopard on a leash is ok with me. Why isn't there rich people like that anymore?
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I give the book four stars. I give the Marchesa Luisa Casati fifty. This woman was the original shocking bad ass goth girl. How had I never heard of this woman?! I once saw photos of her by Man Ray and was transfixed. She set out to make herself a living work of art.

Born to unimaginable wealth in 1881, she was a shy ugly duckling compared to her prettier older sister.

Married to the Marchese Camillo Casati in 1899, he brought the aristocratic title and she brought the wealth. It would have been
May 02, 2011 rated it liked it
The role that the dashing Marchesa Luisa Casati played as a muse of the avant-garde throughout the entirety of last century in the realms of fashion and art can't be underestimated. It was interesting to link so many familiar images back to her. An entire aesthetic in fashion and art.
She lived life in a vacuum, in a way completely unto herself and according to her own whims, while casting a brilliant inspiring glow. Perhaps to be truly unique is to be truly self-absorbed.
I kept imagining what
Catherine Corman
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Despite the squalor, she played, to the last notes, this ghostly echo of the D'Annunzian heroine. "Bring in the drinks!" she would call, and a bent Italian servant would shuffle forward with a half-empty bottle of beer.

-Michael Holroyd in Infinite Variety
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fashion, nonfiction
Here's link to my review:
Loved it, loved it, loved it! Not only an account of the Divine Marchesa's extrordinary life and eccentric personality – but a history of the fantastic art she inspired. A must-read for anyone interested in the turn of the century and/or people living their lives with no regards to the conventions of petty minds; following a path by their own choosing as if they were writing a poem rather than living the day-to-day of a life.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the life history of the Marchesa Luisa Casati. The one aspest of the book that really excited me is the mention of so many female artists, which one does not come across too often regarding the significant contributions woment have provided to their art communities during their life time. At the same time, it was difficulty to read that most of the art work by these artists did not survive their times as well as their male counterparts. The last paragraph in the book ...more
₵oincidental   Ðandy
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
She was disparaged by respectable society for the same qualities that some of the greatest artists, sculptors, photographers & poets of the 20th Century made the Marchesa Casati their muse & the object of their adoration: she simply refused to live by the norms of 'respectable' society; she refused to live an ordinary life hemmed-in by mundane conventions.

Her life may have been self-absorbed, lived selfishly & lavishly to glorify (and enslaved to) her own image; she may have torn th
Oct 10, 2008 rated it liked it
I have always been fascinated (like most fashion people) with the Marchesa Casati. This book was one of the first to take a look at one of the most replicated faces in art and fashion. Although the Marchesa herself was a woman of wonder and strange practices, this book on her seems a bit dry. I had hoped that more would revealed about her love life, her secrets, her style. This seemed to only scratch the surface. Still good for those just taking a peek into her world, some fab quotes on her.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that shows truth is stranger than fiction. I Had never heard of Luisa Casati, but apparently she is very well known in artistic and fashion circles. Coming from an extremely,wealthy family, she spent extravagantly and by her 70s she was $25 milioni in debt and died in poverty. But she lead a fantastic life, defying conformity all the way. A very interesting, fascinating story.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Utterly fascination biography of the Marchesa, one of the true originals or the 20th or any century. Originally a timid aristocrat trapped in a dull marriage, she became a thrower of wild masked balls, subject of hundreds of artworks, keeper of exotic pets, resident of glorious mansions and the ultimate glamorous eccentric.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
One of the most interesting women in modern history. I loved reading about her life at home and how she was so particular about what she surrounded herself with. After a while, however, it became a bit tiring. I wanted a bit more insight as to the women herself, but I guess since no journals exist the author could o nly make assumptions. Still an entertaining read though.
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This one was amazing. Her bio is excellent and very gothy. It's stuff you can't make up. I think there should be a movie based on her life. Christina Ricci could play her. Or someone taller, but gothy.
Mar 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
interesting bio on an eccentric doomed fashionista. without much documentation on her daily life, the authors craft a pretty decent snapshot of this Italian who described herself as a "living work of art"
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
loved it! so will you if you are interested in fashioon, art history, european history or eccentric personalities. dreaming about going back to venice and paris and considering getting myself a pair of greyhounds. maybe greyhound statues...
Allison Thurman
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-loan
Well written biography of a flamboyant character. I wish the authors had gone more into the why but the how is engaging enough! Sometimes selfish and self-destructive, La Casati was one of the world's originals and unabashedly did it her way!
Sep 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Halfway through I realized I was reading a book about the fin di siècle Kim Kardashian. The writers tried their best to create a sympathetic portrait of Luisa Casati, but I'm afraid they failed. When I didn't actively dislike her, I found her silly.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
You can't make up such extravagance - you'll be fascinated by the life of Marchesa Luisa Casati and begin to see her everywhere.
Carol Gleason-rechner
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Answers the question "What would happen if you were fabulously wealthy, utterly lacking in familial or social responsibility, suffered from pathological narcissism and knew a lot of great artists?"
Sep 25, 2008 is currently reading it
Oh god that I could be the Marchesa Casati! Dressed by Erte, consort of D'Annunzio, rumored witch, most oft-painted woman of the Belle Epoque- what more could one want?

Fascinating person as she was, this is a very repetitive tale. needed a strong editor to get in there! hard going but I finished it, happily.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about a very intriguing figure. If you like insanely flamboyant, over-the-top figures, this book is for you.
Kristin Winkler
Aug 31, 2014 rated it liked it
A well-documented account of a decadent person living within decades where decadence was acceptable. Great detail of her dress and events; however I could never get a sense of her personhood.
Bashak Demirel
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Must read for all who are interested in the turn of the 20th century and true eccentricity!
Kris Hurst
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Audrey V
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i just got the book today and very excited about it!!
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what a fascinating time and women
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ugghh... such utter decadence! Its amazing how many current trends in fashion were actually inspired by Casati. Very engaging bio about this rare one of a kind creature.
Erin Tuzuner
This required extensive note taking, as the anecdotes are beyond belief. An incredible gem of a biography.
rated it it was amazing
Feb 01, 2017
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