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Infinite Variety

The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, The Ultimate Edition

2017
Authors:

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

Infinite Variety

The biography of the most dazzling artistic and fashion muse of the twentieth century—in a fully revised and spectacularly illustrated edition

Artists from Man Ray to Augustus John painted, sculpted, and photographed her; writers, including Jean Cocteau, Ezra Pound, and Jack Kerouac, praised her strange beauty; celebrities and royalty were awed by her lavish parties and spectacles at her homes in Italy and France. Fully authorized, completely updated, and richly illustrated, this is the fantastic story of the Marchesa Luisa Casati.

Fascinating . . . with or without her cheetahs, the Marchesa Casati’s circus of the self makes her a natural for the new millennium.

Vanity Fair

For the first three decades of the twentieth century, the Marchesa Luisa Casati astounded Europe. She was infamous for her evening strolls—naked beneath her furs, parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leashes.

Artists such as Man Ray and Augustus John painted, sculpted, and photographed her; writers, including Jean Cocteau, Ezra Pound, and Jack Kerouac, praised her strange beauty; celebrities and royalty from around the world were amazed and awed by her lavish parties and spectacles at her homes in Italy and France. The extravagance ended in 1930 when Casati was more than twenty-five million dollars in debt, but she continued her iconoclastic and creative pursuits until her death in London in 1957. Her legacy continues, especially in contemporary fashion, with John Galliano, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, and other designers inspired by her remarkable style. Fully authorized, completely updated, and richly illustrated, this is the fantastic story of the Marchesa Casati.

Infinite Variety

Scot D. Ryersson is an award-winning writer, illustrator, and graphic designer.

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

Quentin Crisp (1908–1999) led a long and multifaceted life—from artist’s model and commentator on style and etiquette to writer and theatrical and film performer. He is famous for his autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant.

Francesca Granata is assistant professor of fashion studies at the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons School of Design, the New School. She is author of Experimental Fashion: Performance Art, Carnival and the Grotesque Body.

Infinite Variety

Fascinating . . . with or without her cheetahs, the Marchesa 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

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

The New Yorker

Beautifully written . . . Prepare to be astonished.

ELLE

Infinite Variety

Contents
Foreword
Quentin Crisp
Introduction: Siren of the Century
Dream Child
A Slow Awakening
1001 Nights on the Grand Canal
The Basilisk’s Stare
Tigress on Capri
Medusa in Pearls
Dragonfly in Amber
Epilogue: Phoenix Rising
Afterword
Francesca Granata
Acknowledgments
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index