“I want to be a living work of art.” —Marchesa Luisa Casati
Luisa, Marchesa Casati Stampa di Soncino, “Queen of the Night” costume, House of Worth, 1922
In a dazzling confection of diamond net and silver fringe, Italy’s wealthiest heiress, Marchesa Luisa Casati, personified “light” at a fancy-dress ball in 1890. Her ensemble, a collaboration with couturier Charles Frederick Worth, was completed with a giant corona of golden feathers, a towering diamond tiara, and a swarm of embroidered stars. It’s hardly surprising that the marchesa has since become one of fashion’s favorite muses — inspiring Dior’s 1998 spring couture collection, Chanel’s 2010 resort collection, and Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig’s label.