Friday, September 18, 2009

Carnevale di Venezia

One of the best places to look for dramatic costume inspirations is undoubtedly the Carnival Of Venice. You'll find some of the most over the top beautiful creations such as the 2 couples above.

Since Halloween lands on a Saturday, Dan and I decided to dress up and host an open house and invite the neighbors on our block.

Halloween is a big event in our neighborhood. Every year we get close to 500 trick or treaters at our door.

This year we both would love to wear any one of the gentlemen's 18th century costumes shown in these pictures.

Unfortunately, as the designated researcher, I haven't had any success finding a theater or costume store in our area that offers this quality of work for rent or purchase.

The two stores that have a reputation(at least according to our circle of friends) for the best 18th century costumes in town are Decades and Broadway Costumes and theatrical.

However, although they have very nice costumes, I haven't seen anything as opulent as the costumes in these images, at least not in our sizes. Dan and I are both 6' tall and over 200lbs which creates a bit of a challenge for us.

However, what makes the challenge almost impossible? the fact that Dan thinks I could find us costumes like these for a maximum of $100.00 for both. Yes, he often shops at the LaLa land mall. For that amount today, we'd have to go beyond the 18th century to second century BC and wear toga sheets. To own something like this can cost you anywhere from a minimum of five hundred to a couple thousand dollars or more.

To rent these costumes is much less but not a whole lot less. I've seen them online for about a couple hundred dollars. However, as I type this, I'm thinking we could perhaps capture the era but just not in this elaborate fashion. Perhaps white tights, white shirt with jabot collar and ruffle sleeves. a black tuxedo coat tail jacket from the second hand store and just embellish the hell out of it with brass buttons and gold gimp remnants from previous decorating projects. a couple of vintage brooches for the jabot. We can do the same for the tricorn hat which can be purchased at Target. A few feathers, vintage award medals and viola! 2 rummage sale interpretations of 18th century royal!...we'll see.

I am crazy about this gentleman's look with all the beautiful and intricate detailed work. It's images like these that make me wish I had the talent and/or patience to sew.

This gentleman is also a favorite. Such a regal look.

So, If you too are looking for some great ideas or are just a lover of drama presented in velvet,sequin and feathers, then perhaps you will enjoy these images as much as I do. Below are even more elaborate and creative costumes that uniquely say Carnevale di Venezia!

(all images from

The Carnival History

The oldest document pertaining to the use of masks in Venice dates back to 2nd May 1268. In the document it is written that it was forbidden for masqueraders to practice the game of the "eggs". From the early 14th century onwards, new laws started to be promulgated, with the aim of stopping the relentless moral decline of the Venetian people of the day. This restrictive carnival legislation started with a decree on 22nd February 1339 prohibiting masqueraders from going around the city at night. A decree that helps us understand just how libertine the Venetians of the day were, is that of the 24th January 1458 which forbade men from entering convents dressed as women to commit "multas inhonestates"! In a similar vein, the decree of 3rd February 1603 is interesting in that it attempted to restore morality in the convents.

Masqueraders were banned from entering the nuns' parlous - it had been the convention to sit in the parlous and talk to the nuns. Frequently, decrees were promulgated prohibiting masqueraders from carrying arms or any instrument which could cause harm, or other decrees which forbade masqueraders from entering churches.
[Complete Story]


Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

500 trick or treaters???


I love trick or treaters. But 500? After the first 100, I would be crying "uncle!" I would turn out the light, lock the door, and cower in the bedroom behind closed curtains and watch movies.

G. Bonski said...

Great pictures. I attended a Carnival back in 1998 and had a wonderful time. The best designs in the world can be found at this affair.

Gabriela said...


I ended up here thanks to Tristan!
Lucky me...all these costumes are so amazing!

~ Gabriela ~

Bill C. said...

I have never seen such beautiful costumes. Wow!

SALLY said...

You might want to look up "Costuming by Aziza" she does some wonderful costumes and it can all be done on line and by mail. #530-622-7566 in CA. Good luck!! sally