The exquisite costumes of Venetian Carnival balls
Artistic single pieces of today based on the models of yesterday
21 April – 7 October 2018
This special exhibition is permeated by the charm and mysticism of Carnival in the splendid palazzi of Venice. It focuses on the exquisite costumes that continue to give the Venetian Carnival balls their legendary extravagance to this day.
Only the most elaborate costume will suffice for an appearance at one of the famous private balls. The perfect interplay of work from a variety of craftsmen and women is essential to the creation of the gown. A goldsmith who has mastered the art of enameling is needed, or an umbrella maker who can make the perfect old-fashioned parasol. You won’t get anywhere without an artist who can make the obligatory fans or a cobbler to create suitable customized footwear. The outfit is the main concern. Plenty of creativity and exemplary craftsmanship are a must. Only the finest and most exquisite materials are even considered.
Records from the year 1094 are the first to make mention of the carnival in Venice. It experienced its heyday in the 18th century. Celebrating Carnival has always been a boisterous affair for Venetians. It lasts 11 days and has come to be one of the most famous celebrations in the world. The purpose of the carnival is to make fun of the established upper class. The historic backdrop of the city puts the finishing touch on the Venetian Carnival. Its revival in the mid-1970s has allowed many handicrafts previously threatened with extinction to flourish.
The costumes of the special exhibition come from a private collection and were custom-made by the best craftsmen and women in the industry. These include the exquisite costumes of Jacky Blanchard, exquisite umbrellas by the Maître d’Art Michel Heurtault, and the ornate fans by Sylvain Le Guen. All raw materials come from France or Europe and all work was done in France or elsewhere in Europe. Many techniques on the verge of oblivion were rediscovered, but some knowledge is unfortunately gone forever along with its Maître d’Art.