As promised, a more detailed post on my visit to Venice for Carnivale. As I compile these photos, the memories of this once in a lifetime opportunity come flooding back, and I am so pleased to have finally checked it off the list.
I think it is my love of costumes, fashion, and particularly the world of the courtesan, and the mystery and intrigue that surrounded them that inspired my visit. Many of the romantic images I have of this time come from a favorite film, Dangerous Beauty (starring Catherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell.)
Originally the Doge’s Ball was an opportunity for the common Venetians to mix with the aristocracy, with the hope, of course, of romance and a fairytale ending. My fairytale started with my dress designs and two wonderful costume makers. I provided sketches and materials to New York based Maria Marzilli and Verona based Domenico Mendiola. Both Italians, with that spirit of theatricality in their DNA. I sent them basically the same sketch but different fabrics and trims that I purchased had in NYC. Their different interpretations, and individual style, and the love of their metier resulted in two very romantic 18th century style gowns ( I have included their respective contact information for those of you interested in costume. Maria also does couture bridal gowns and Domenico does event design as well. )
Our very generous hosts were the Marchese and Marchesa Fumanelli – of the famous, wine family, based in Verona since 1470. As always when it comes to my travel, the schedule was relentless:
Our hosts held a pre-ball dinner at their splendid villa in Verona.
I wore the not so demure, red dress, made by Domenico. I called Simon the Blue Boy 60 years later…he just rolled his eyes.
The Hotel Metropole in Venice was the venue for a Grand Budapest Hotel film themed extravaganza. As the movie was set in 1932, I opted for a 30s inspired navy blue dress (purchased in Charleston) and accessorized with long gloves, and a blonde wig – the men wore white tie and tails. Thought that looked better then being the bell boy – SP agreed!
When in Venice, once must promenade, and in this case we became the star attraction for the many tourists in St Mark’s Square. Nervous of rain, I decided to forego another ball gown and instead dressed in male, military style. We lunched at a famous restaurant on the square, and I think spent more time having photos taken than we did eating!
Finally it was show time! I wore the the bronze and gold dress made by Maria. The Doge’s Ball did not disappoint – unbelievable costumes, a stage show to rival Circ du Soleil, and a feast for the eyes wherever you looked. Although it is rare that I stay up to 4:00 AM, Italy just runs on a different schedule ( a euphemism for always running late ) than this American woman!
We were joined at all these events by a marvelous selection of international guests – Spanish, Canadian, American, and of course local Italians, who gave us a wonderful insight into the local ways and culture.
Not for the faint hearted, this was 3 days of serious revelry, but sometimes (to quote my favorite Tim McGraw) you just have to “live like you were dying!”
Arrivederci, and hope you like the short video!