We often think of shocking outfits and infamous party antics as a modern phenomenon, pioneered by the likes of Lady Gaga, but the fact is that women were raising eyebrows long before copies of Heat hit the shelves. Here are a couple of my favourites, starting with the Marchesa Luisa Casati; Europe's most scandalous celebrity and muse. She would wear live snakes as jewelery and regularly walk her pet cheetahs wearing nothing but a massive fur coat. She famously said' I want to be a living work of art ' and posed for the likes of Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. You can read more about her amazing life here.
Another eccentric icon is Leonor Fini who was a world famous surrealist artist, as well as an unmissable part of the Paris fashion scene, becoming one of the most photographed women of her era.
Her art was unconventional; she was the first woman to paint an erotic male nude in 1942. A neighbour's description of her home reads:
''At the top of an old staircase, a red door opened....confronted with ships' figureheads, old mirrors, velvet curtains, an alcove painted purple, some violet-coloured armchairs, glass hands, a large bronze foot, birds' skeletons, dolls' wigs, a large baroque pair of scales, oriental clothes and carpets, turn-of-the-century underclothes, theatre costumes, sequinned stockings…''
How amazing?!Sounds like my dream home.She also went on to acquire 17 Persian cats; the feline featuring strongly in her artwork.Apparently she used to let them wander up and down the dining table eating whatever they liked. Anyone concerned they may end up a crazy cat lady, I think this sort of thing is definitely what you should aspire to.Do it in style.
You can read more about Leonor here or buy this beautiful book. Classic coffee table fodder about the Marchesa is also available here.