Masquerade Masks are an important addition to every fancy dress and occasion wear collection. As well as being mysterious, decadent and sophisticated these stylish accessories have a rich history. Dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, the Masquerade Mask was introduced to wear during Europe’s carnival season. Villagers would gather in masks and costumes to take part in elaborate pageants and glamorous processions. Later, during the 16th century Renaissance period, masks became popular in Italy. Members of the aristocracy would take full advantage of their anonymity during masquerade balls and enjoy a night of decadence, gluttony, lust and scandal. Thus the term Venetian Mask was coined. Even after the fall of the Venetian Republic in the 18th Century, Masquerade Balls have remained popular to this day. Wearing a mask brings people together of all classes and makes everyone equal. It allows people to leave their everyday life behind and enter a world of pretend and fantasy while taking on a new identity.
Masquerade Masks in Culture
One reason for the continued popularity of Masquerade Masks and Balls could be due to their part in culture. Masquerade is the name and topic of a 1835 Russian play by Mikhael Lermontov. Also, so many of Shakespeare’s plays rely upon disguise and mistaken identity meaning a Masked Ball is often an essential setting in the story, such as Capulet’s Ball in Romeo and Juliet. Another famous masked character of course is Gaston Leroux’s Phantom. During Phantom of the Opera’s Masquerade scene all of the characters are masked:
“Masquerade! Paper faces on parade…
Masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you!”
Interestingly in this scene the Phantom (Erik) wears a costume inspired by Red Death’s attire in the Edgar Allan Poe short story The Masque of the Red Death.
“I want to live like everybody else. I want to have a wife like everybody else and to take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody.”
Erik- Phantom of the Opera
Masquerade is alive in modern culture too. One of my favourite parties in Gossip Girl is The Masquerade Ball. It was an elaborate affair and the masquerade enhanced the aura of mystery, leading to mistaken identities and twists in the plot line.
Masquerade Masks for Different Occasions
There are lots of masquerade masks to choose from, whether you need one for fancy dress, to take part in a play or to attend a charity masquerade ball. Take a look at some of our favourite masks available:
Mysterious Masquerade Masks
Black masks are perfect for the dark mysterious look. Wear at a Masquerade Murder Mystery evening or to a Masquerade Ball for an air of sophistication.
Fancy Dress Masquerade Masks
There are so many Masquerade Mask options to wear to fancy dress parties. You could opt for the classic mysterious “Phantom” mask, dress up as a fun Joker or or go all glam dressed up as a Burlesque performer. Guy Fawkes is another popular choice, especially around Bonfire Night.
Superhero Masquerade Mask
A classic black Masquerade Mask is a great investment for any fancy dress collection. Perfect for Superhero or spy parties they can add mystery to any costume.
Masquerade Ball Masks
Quite possibly the most fun mask to choose is for a Masquerade Ball. First choose your dress, then your mask. Will you colour match with your gown your dress? Will you go for feathers or other adornments? You will go to the ball!
Masks are still worn at many carnival processions today. You could wear an authentic carnival mask or a bright Brazilian carnival mask.
Halloween Masquerade Masks
The Phantom and Devil masks often get used at Halloween but I find the long nosed masks creepy too. Alternatively you could opt for a black cat masquerade mask.
Traditional Venetian Mask
For a historical event you may need to invest in a Traditional Venetian Mask- they make great wall art and home adornments too.
Have you ever worn a Masquerade Mask or been to a Masquerade Ball? I’m still Cinders waiting for my invitation but we can all enjoy these mysterious accessories during fancy dress and Halloween parties- which would you choose?