Masked ball à la Romaine

Come March and 225 years since the fatal shot in Ballo in Maschera, the masked ball where king Gustaf III was assassinated by plotting aristocrats. To commemorate this event a masked ball set in 1792 is organized in March every year. Despite the grim reason the ball is fun so I really wanted to attend, regardless of heavy workload and fatigue.

With all my sewing going on I really did not need to start a new project and thought I´d reuse something old. But lo and behold, I struck gold at work! Up in the palace attic, stowed away in a dust covered cardboard box, was not only one but half a dozen sapphire blue and gold tunics! They are 1990s replicas of a theatre costume from 1672 that is in our collection. (Link to the database here.)

Half a dozen tunics!

After some quick research I devised a plan. Fancy dress “à la Romaine”, to dress as a Roman god or emperor, was popular during the Renaissance and Baroque, among court dancers and other performers but among monarchs in particular. This I could do without too much effort.

A well known example: Louis XIV as the Sun King. Château de Versailles.

One of the Swedish monarchs: An allusion of a triumphant Charles XI on horse back, painting by J K Ehrenstrahl, 1674. Skokloster Castle.

I now had the tunic. (They were all in – how can I put it- well-worn state. I think i managed to choose the one that was in the best condition.) I used my regular shirt, golden stockings, and opera pumps. White mask and powdered wig from last year and to finish it off I glue-gunned a coronet from metallic paper to support my ostrich feathers. Ét voilá!

The tunic was somewhat soiled but careful ironing did the trick.

A cloak, secured to the shoulders with two brooches, added some drama and it very conveniently hid the safety pins that were necessary to achieve a decent fit. The piece of matching fabric (Acetate? Silk taffeta?) draped well. I found it in a bag filled with odd scraps of fabric.

My opera pumps were temporarily upgraded with a large bow and some trim in metallic paper topped with a glass bead.

The ball was magnificent! The white mask and large ostrich feathers is me trying to see my feet… Photo credit Fernando Orellana.

My 1790s wig from last year and a contraption I made from metallic paper and glass beads, to accommodate my ostrich feathers. (If you, dear readers, say I remind you of a roaring twenties flapper – minus earrings and eyelashes, I will be most seriously displeased. I assure you, this was regarded as super manly.)

There was some operatic entertainment between dances. Here is the dance programme:

Doing my best eighteenth century Roman god (Apollo? Zephyr?) impression.

Later we moved upstairs to enjoy decadently delicious refreshments. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

Yours truly was starving by now. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

These dames could be Marie Antoinette´s ladies-in-waiting while at Le Petit Trianon.

My Regency chums Ylva and Jacob.

Would you believe it: to my surprise I was awarded a prize for one of the best costumes! It was a jar of locally produced honey. Tasty indeed!