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Infinite Variety

The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati

2004
Authors:

Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino
Foreword by Quentin Crisp

Infinite Variety

The updated biography of the most spectacular fashion and artistic muse of the twentieth century

The Definitive Edition

For the first three decades of the twentieth century, the Marchesa Casati astounded Europe. Artists painted, sculpted, and photographed her; poets praised her strange beauty. Among them were Gabriele D’Annunzio, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Cecil Beaton, and American writers Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, and Ezra Pound. Fully authorized and accurate, this is the fantastic story of the Marchesa Luisa Casati.

Infinite Variety is a fascinating biography. With or without her cheetahs, Casati’s circus of the self makes her a natural for the new millennium.

Vanity Fair

The Definitive Edition

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 praised her strange beauty. Among them were Gabriele D’Annunzio, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Cecil Beaton, and American writers Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, and Ezra Pound. Couturiers Fortuny, Poiret, and Erté dressed her. Some became lovers, others awestruck admirers, but all were influenced by this extraordinary muse.

The extravagance ended in 1930 when Casati was more than twenty-five million dollars in debt. Fleeing to London, she spent her final flamboyant years there until her death in 1957. Now nearly a half-century later, Casati’s fashion legacy continues to inspire such designers as John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, and Tom Ford. Fully authorized and accurate, this is the fantastic story of the Marchesa Luisa Casati.

Infinite Variety

Scot D. Ryersson is an award-winning freelance writer, illustrator, and graphic designer. He lives in New Jersey.

Michael Orlando Yaccarino is a freelance writer specializing in international genre film, fashion, music, and unconventional historical figures. He lives in New Jersey.

Infinite Variety

Infinite Variety is a fascinating biography. With or without her cheetahs, Casati’s circus of the self makes her a natural for the new millennium.

Vanity Fair

A meticulously researched biography, Infinite Variety is as much art history as chronicle of personal obsession.

New York Times

A delicious edition of extremely rare and retro refinement, the biography of the mythical marquise—the most brilliant muse and eccentric patron of the first half of the twentieth century. An indispensable book.

Vogue

Ryersson and Yaccarino are judicious historians of frivolity who capture the tone of a life that was obscenely profligate yet strangely pure.

New Yorker

A beautifully written biography. Prepare to be astonished.

ELLE

Mesmerizing and revealing, Infinite Variety is the definitive account of the Italian femme scandaleuse who declared ‘I want to be a living work of art.’

Clear

Infinite Variety has been made available in yet another metamorphosis—and one as dazzling as the inimitable muse who inspired it.

aRUDE

Thoroughly unbiased and well researched biography. Includes a plethora of new information as well as artwork and photos of the Marchesa that were not available to the biographers—or to the rest of the world—at the time the original book was published. Thanks to the effort of Ryersson and Yaccarino, the story of the Marchesa Casati, with all its splendor, will continue to astonish and bewilder.

Lifestyle

Infinite Variety

Contents

FOREWORD QUENTIN CRISP

INTRODUCTION: SIREN OF THE CENTURY

DREAMCHILD, 1881–1903
A SLOW AWAKENING, 1903–1910
1001 NIGHT SON THE GRAND CANAL, 1910–1914
THE BASILISK’S STARE, 1914–1919
TIGRES SON CAPRI, 1919–1920
MEDUSAIN PEARLS, 1921–1927
DRAGON FLY IN AMBER, 1927–1957

EPILOGUE: PHOENIX RISING

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
NOTES
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
THE CASATI ARCHIVES

INDEX