Friday, September 24, 2010

Marvelous Masquerades

Masquerades were formals attended in gowns and elaborate masks. Historical sitings of masks being worn in celebration has said to have gone as far back as the 13th century.
In the 15th century Masquerades were beginning to make a mark in colonial history. These balls were originally organized in celebration of marriage and other important ceremonies.
In the 16th century Italy held these costume balls, also known as Maschera and Venetian Carnivals, as public events for the upper class, the most spectacular of all were held in Venice. The fall of the Venetian Republic slowly did away with Venetian Carnivals. By the end of the 18th century masquerades disappeared completely. Even after the fall of the Venetian masquerades, Carlos de Beistegui threw one of the most commemorated balls of the 20th century held at Palazzo Labia in Venice on September 3, 1951. It was dubbed "the party of the century."
In the 17th and 18th century the balls commenced in mainland Europe.
Due to identity disclosure, death was inevitable in European masquerades. Although, fatality was unavoidable, it was a game for the guests to wear masks. The idea was to guess at the name behind the mask.
Today masquerades are still being held but in less formal attire.

Halloween being also known for masks and costumes make it a perfect time to dress as a Venetian beauty. Gather together a mask, hair embellishments, a gown, vintage style jewelry, decide on gloves or a bracelet, and a pair of flats or if you can handle it, wear a pair of high heels and there you have it, a Venetian costume. The best part of this costume is there is no need for any make-up, just a touch of lip color and a loose up-do, and you are ready for trick-or-treating or that Halloween bash. Remember, there is always room for variation to make your costume more comfortable. Some ideas include wearing a knee length dress instead of a floor length gown. As mentioned before, trade in flats for high heels if your feet can only take so much abuse. Aim for a Victorian style ensemble (lace, corset, elegant, etc.) and you will have a perfect costume.
Here are some masquerade costumes that I have pieced together from different shops on Etsy.  All these items are handmade by artists found on These artists put a lot of time into what they love and the outcome are these beautiful creations. If something stands out, click on the link below the picture to go to the artist's shop.

 An assembly of pure elegance, with silver tones, to enhance the object of beauty. This is a  costume that makes a lasting impression. A stunning dress with an open neck calls for an equally vivid necklace. Laced gloves are a great match for a sleeveless dress. And finally, a crystal comb to dress your up-do so at every angle, you are astonishing.

A melody to be worn, this costume is based off of the mask. The mask displays a sheet off music, to keep the theme, the violinist's dress seemed only appropriate. In the center of the mask sits a flower. To incorporate the jeweled bloom throughout the costume, the hair piece adorns pink flowers (pink also being another element found on the mask) as well as a dazzling bracelet. The dress being so elaborate, it seemed only suitable to include a more subtle, yet beautiful, necklace. A silver necklace also only seemed fit with the silver jewel in the center of the flower on the mask and the silver bracelet. 


A dark mysterious allure is achieved with the red and black theme found in this costume compilation. This mask speaks wisdom and beauty accompanies the wise. An intense dress of red and black material with a neckline meant to frame such a gorgeous necklace. With such astounding pieces, simplistic accessories of laced gloves and a sparkling black gemmed hair piece complete this costume. An alternate shorter dress, like this black dress, can be chosen to reach this same mystical beauty appeal.

Here is a more adorable costume, with a whimsical golden butterfly mask decorated with beads and gems. The breath taking gown keeps the golden color scheme as well as this fine set of jewelry. This comb of feathers and a small pearl adds the perfect soft touch to complete this delicate look.

Here is a collaboration of a modernized masquerade costume. An angelic like dress matched with a lovely creme laced mask sends off a simplistic charm. Delicate feathers and flowers adorn the hair bringing out the flowers on the mask. The arm warmers match the color of the mask and the crochet flower ties into the flower theme. With a unique crochet necklace the outfit is complete, a Venetian Goddess has arrived. Another thought to be thunk is whether you will wear pieces of a costume in the future. Spending money on a costume is more sensible if this is kept in consideration. The arm warmers and the dress can be worn numerous times from this arrangement and the necklace and hair piece kept for special occasions.

Proud Peacock

Peacocks are notably a symbol of materialistic desire and pride, but the symbolism of the beautiful bird goes further than this common conception. Peacocks often times eat poisonous plants, unaffected, giving them the symbolic traits of incorruptibility and immortality. In Greek mythology the Goddess Hera was said to have placed eyes on their feathers, manifesting them with wisdom and knowledge. Hinduism sees the peacock as a representation of kindness, patience, and good fortune, denoting the qualities of their Goddess Lakshmi. In China and Japan, the peacock is sacred to the goddesses of mercy, Kwan-yin and Kwannon. Buddhism beliefs connect the wide spreading of a peacock's tail with openness and acceptance, also connecting their ability to stomach poisonous plants with the ability to thrive through times of suffering. 

"In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
Through medicine gardens of beauty lie near.
The masses of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant,
But thrive on the essence of poisonous plants,
In similar fashion the brave bodhisattvas
Remain in the jungle of worlds concern.
No matter how joyful this world pleasure garden,
These brave ones are never attracted to pleasures,
But thrive in the jungle of suffering and pain." 
~"The wheel of Sharp Weapons", written by Dharmaraksita

 There are many other visions describing the significance of peacocks, stories from the Sufi's, Christians, Others from Hinduism, but one thing is agreed upon throughout all these tales, the magnificence of a peacock is undeniable. 

In honor of Halloween I am creating a series of blogs to give others costume ideas. With a little creativity this Halloween your costume can be more than the common white-bed-sheet-ghost. There's nothing keeping you from gathering your costume piece by piece. This gives the excitement of the holiday a little more attention and allows expression to be unleashed submerging you entirely in the experience. On Etsy, there are countless of artists putting their time into what they love to do. Here are just a few that present the feathers of immortality. If you see something that you love, click the link below the picture to see the artist's shop.

Strut your stuff in these peacock designs this Halloween: