Saturday, February 6, 2010

Venice Carnival

Do you know what begins today, in a land far far away (from where I stand anyways)? The Venice Carnival! As it stands, it is on my list of things to do at least once in a lifetime.

Venice Carnival is very old. Already in 1094, it had been mentioned in Doge Vital Faliero de Doni's charter. It is also documented in 1269 by the Senate. After being forbidden by Napoleon, the Venice Carnival came back in 1979. Since 1980, it has been held in the way we know it today and tourists come by the hundred thousands every year to share in the festivities.

Masks are an important feature of the Venice Carnival. Once upon a time, the Carnival was the time of year for both nobles and plebs to mix and mingle. Wearing a mask ensured everyone's anonymity and annulling the social classes for a few days. Traditional Venetian Masks are made of leather or Papier Maché. It is an art and the maskmakers or mascherari hold a special status in the society.

Costumes were also worn for the same reason. These evolved quite a lot over the centuries. Although they were patched and worn to look like beggars' clothes in the 16th century, the costumes are usually inspired by the
Comedia dell'Arte. The traditional costume is the bauta, which is made up of three pieces: the tabarro, which is a black cape, the larva or white mask and the tricorne hat. The festival reached its peak in the 18th century, which is probably why styles from that time still hold the most influence over the modern Carnival costumes.

Now if like my Sweetheart you've never seen the costumes worn by Carnival goers, let me show you a few pictures to drool on and then you will know why I want to go.

Note: I choose to show only pictures of costumers wearing full faced masks to respect people's anonymity. As always, if you are in a photo and you want me to either give you the credits you deserve or take the picture off, just e-mail me.

Masquerade ball at the Carnival of Venice, photo from Wikimedia Commons

As soon as I saw that picture, I realised I have most of the materials used for the dress in my stash, that is the red and green taffeta, the green velvet and the gold braid. With the headdress' design, I feel inspired to make an Irish Dance solo dress. Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with the current subject (other maybe that Great Costumers think alike - in terms of fabrics).

Starting here, all the pictures I choose to present came from the 2008 gallery of There were just so many gorgeous ones, I would have wanted to show them all, so I strongly encourage you to visit their photo galleries.

Two Noble Men walking the streets, photo from

Lady of Summer Flowers, photo from

Purple and Yellow couple, photo from

Blue and Gold Lady, photo from

Two Ladies out for a walk, photo from

A Queen at Sunset, photo from

Lady of the Red Rose, photo from

Man of Gold, photo from

Silver and Gold Lady, photo from

There is something almost supernatural in seeing all these expressionless faces, especially paired with impressive dresses.

Can you guess which costumer I admire got to go last year? None other than Trystan! The lucky girl got the trip as a birthday present!

Trystan's Venetian Carnivale Costume

As always, she looked amazing in a Black and Hot Pink Robe à la Française (and yes, if you look closely, that is Sari fabric she used for the stomacher, skirt and engageantes).

By the way, Trystan and her husband Thomas also have website dedicated to another one of their passion, traveling: T&T's Real Travels. There they share their experiences as regular travelers, as well as photos and videos. They sell DVDs of each trip and it just so happens that they just finished editing their Venetian Carnivale experience. You can find it at If you are like me and you don't know when you'll be able to attend the festivities, this is an affordable way to get a taste of the real thing.

In the mean time, you can watch the preview with me:

I can only conclude by saying "I wanna go!!!".

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