There’s no place like Venice…

When I stepped on the streets of Venice I looked around expecting to see a little brown brindle cairn terrier, named Toto, appear so I could tell him I didn’t think we were in Florence anymore.  In Venice there isn’t a car in sight and the closest thing to ‘American hospitality’ was a McDonald’s that didn’t have a single picture of the famous golden arches.  Walking the streets of Venice at night is a magical thing. The city becomes nearly deserted, hardly any boats are running and the best thing I heard was… pure silence.  I have yet to find a city that can come close to the majestic allure of Venice.

As a young girl I dreamt of living in the era of corsets, petticoats, powder wigs and handmade lace. I guess you could say I almost lived that dream.  Cannaregio 2590 is home to Nicolao Atelier. From the front it looks like a small everyday costume shop but once through the doors, it turns into a wonderland of Rococo and Baroque decor.

All The Fashion Design Students we taught about 17th – 18th century attire by Stefano Nicolao (the owner and designer) who chose one lucky young student to model a corset and petticoat for us. Mr. Nicolao’s costumes have been seen in Casanova and Pirates of the Caribbean to name a few movies and have been in many theatrical performances.  We were able to see his studio and costume inventory.  It seemed like the costumes ran on for miles. As a hopeful future fashion designer, it was better than waking up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree. I could have spent a good day at Nicolao Atelier, but we soon had to rush away from trying on tri-corner hats and masks to go take a trip on a gondola. I would have never been able to see such amazing textiles or costumes if it hadn’t been for The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Study Abroad Program. Thank you F.I.T.

Ca’ Macana Mask Making

The first thing that pops up in my head when I think of Venice is masks and gondolas. We (FIT in Florence) recently took an academic trip to Venice where we had the opportunity to make our very own masks! Buying a mask is great, but I think making your own mask is even more special. We ended our second day in Venice at Ca’ Macana Mask Studio, where we learned about the history of Venetian masks, then  FITSA (FIT Student Activities) organized an event to participate in the actual mask making!

Bauta mask

Blank masks ready to be painted!

Before painting their masks!

FIT study abroad Director Sass Brown working hard on her mask!

Chohye working on her mask!

Erica's mask in progress!

Finished masks at sunset

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to go back to wearing masks on a daily basis and doing whatever you wanted, without anyone knowing you did it? These masks didn’t only hide your identity and social status, but gave you freedom! The anonymity that these masks offered, allowed for interactions within different societies without judgments being made. Think about all the criminal and immoral activities that people probably engaged in, which is why these masks are only worn during Carnivale now. But now we have original masks to take to Carnivale next semester (Spring 2012) for those wanting to participate! I’ll definitely be making my way back for sure!