Beautiful Discoveries: Luisa Casati, The Living Work Of Art
She was born in 1881 as Luisa Adele Rosa Maria Amman, grew up in Italy and was raised by a family who had made its fortune in the cotton trade.
This woman was extravagant and extraordinary but most of all bizarre. So much so that painter Augustus John once claimed "She should be shot, stuffed and displayed in a glass case".
She survived on a diet of gin and opium. Her skin was bleached paper white and her pupils remained dilated all day long thanks to the poisonous drops of belladonna that she applied to her eyes. She wore black kohl around her eyes, with false eyelashes and strips of black velvet glued to the lids.
Her parties where the most flamboyant of the time and she would walk into the room with dresses made out of lightbulbs, peacock feathers and covered in chicken blood.
Little before she died, back in the 1950s, she moved to a one-bedroom flat near Harrods, believing she was capable of communicating by telepathy. She stopped writing cards and letters, and spent her days indulging in spiritualist sessions with her few remaining friends.
History is full of extraordinary people, eccentric women and queer men... Luisa, is a jewel in my chest of beautiful discoveries; her wildness, her fearlessness, her madness and self-destructive seduction make me want to both embrace her and escape her.