Vintage Photos of Dandy, Muse and Celebrity Luisa Casati

Luisa Casati  (1881 – 1957) was an Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts in early 20th-century Europe. A celebrity and femme fatale, the marchesa’s famous eccentricities dominated and delighted European society for nearly three decades. She dramatically altered her appearance to become a bewitchingly beautiful figure from some bizarre fairy tale. She wore live snakes as jewellery and was infamous for her evening strolls; naked beneath her furs whilst parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leads.  Nude servants gilded in gold leaf attended her.  Bizarre wax mannequins sat as guests at her dining table, some of them rumoured to contain the ashes of past lovers. Without question, the Marchesa was the most scandalous woman of her day.

She became a muse to Italian Futurists , captivated artists and literary figures and had numerous portraits painted and sculpted by various artists. She posed for photographs by Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and Baron Adolph de Meyer. Many of them she paid for, as a wish to “commission her own immortality”.  She is famous for saying “I want to be a living work of art”.

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Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by unknown photographer, (ca. 1903) via

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Luisa Casati” by Alberto Martini ca. 1906. Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati on one of her night strolls along the Grand Canal in Venice

Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Adolf Demeyer, 1913

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Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Man Ray, 1922

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Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Cecil Beaton, 1954

Collection of Vintage Celebrity Portraits by Baron Adolph de Meyer

Baron Adolph de Meyer (1868 – 1946) was a photographer famed for his elegant photographic portraits in the early 20th century, many of which depicted celebrities such as Mary Pickford, Rita Lydig, Luisa Casati, Billie Burke, Irene Castle, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Ruth St. Denis, King George V of the United Kingdom, and Queen Mary. He was also the first official fashion photographer for the American magazine Vogue, appointed to that position in 1913.

Today, few of his prints survive, most were destroyed during World War II

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Billie Burke by Baron Adolph de Meyer via

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 Ruth St. Denis in The Revelation of the Goddess from Omika by Baron Adolph de Meyer via

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Lillian Gish by Baron Adolph de Meyer via

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Irene Castle 1921 by Baron Adolph de Meyer via

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Mary Pickford Wedding Portrait by Baron Adolph de Meyer via

 

Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Adolf de Meyer

Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Baron Adolph de Meyer via

Edwardian Era Fashion by Lucile

Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon (née Sutherland) (1863 –1935) was best known by her professional name “Lucile”. Who was at the beginning of the twentieth century one of the most innovative, forward thinking designers. Much like her contemporary, Paul Poiret, she designed clothes for the modern woman. She launched liberating slit skirts and low necklines, popularized less restrictive corsets, and promoted alluring, pared-down lingerie.

She originated the “mannequin parade”, a precursor to the modern fashion show, and trained the first professional models who were almost as famous as she was. She gave them poetic names, like Hebe, Corisande and Dolores.

She opened branches of her London house, Lucile Ltd, in Paris, New York City and Chicago, dressing a trend-setting clientele of royalty, nobility, and stage and film personalities. Some well-known clients, whose clothing influenced many when it appeared in early films, on stage, and in the press, included: Irene Castle, Lily Elsie,Gertie Millar, Gaby Deslys, Billie Burke, and Mary Pickford.

Lucile costumed many theatrical productions including the London première of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow (1907), the Ziegfeld Follies revues on Broadway (1915–21), and the D. W. Griffith silent movie Way Down East (1920). Her fashions were also frequently featured in Pathé and Gaumont newsreels of the 1910s and 20s, and she appeared in her own weekly spot in the British newsreel “Around the Town” (c. 1917–1919)

Lucy Duff Gordon is also remembered as a survivor of the sinking of Titanic in 1912.

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Lady Lucy Duff Gordon with her dogs by Marceau via

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Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow, 1909, costume by Lucile via

Lily Elsie, shown here in a costume designed by Gordon for a 1909 play called “The Dollar Princess.” via

A model in a dress by Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon), ca. 1912 via

1921 Lucile evening gown of a black chantilly lace hoop over a white satin slip, shown at the National Retail Garment Association Fashion Show at the Hotel Commodore, NYC. From Ebay.

1921 Lucile evening gown of a black chantilly lace hoop over a white satin slip, shown at the National Retail Garment Association Fashion Show at the Hotel Commodore, NYC via

A Collection of Photos Feat. Rita de Acosta Lydig

Cuban-American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875 – 1929) was in her heyday one of the foremost women of high society –  photographed by Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen and Gertrude Käsebier, she was regarded:

“the most picturesque woman in America.”

She was sculpted in alabaster by Malvina Hoffman and  painted by Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent. Isabella Stewart Gardner, the creator of the Gardner museum in Boston, once asked their mutual friend, John Singer Sargent, why Rita had never expressed herself artistically. “Why should she?” Sargent answered, “She herself is art.”

Lydig was famous for her extravagant lifestyle, :

“…Rita was equally welcomed in Paris, where she spent parts of each year. She would arrive at the Ritz with a hairdresser, masseuse, chauffeur, secretary, maid,… and forty Louis Vuitton trunks…”

Saddly her overspending into heavy debt and she was declared bankrupt – shortly afterwards she died of pernicious anaemia at the age of 54.

Later her personal wardrobe became the basis for the start of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Rita de Acosta Lydig by Edward Steichen, 1905 via

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Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875-1929) photographed by Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934). Illustration in “Camera work”, n° 10, April 1905 via

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Rita de Acosta Lydig’ by Adolphe de Meyer, 1913

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Rita de Acosta Lydig’ by Adolphe de Meyer, 1913

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