18th Century · Events

Bastille Day Masquerade

I was invited to the local French Society’s Bastille Day Masquerade Dinner and Ball at the lovely Coachman Hotel last Saturday, with fellow partners in crime Liane and Hannah. Not yet having an 18th Century dress in my wardrobe, Liane came to the rescue and lent me one of hers. I decorated a mask to go with it but hardly ended up wearing it as I had attached it to a stick and it spent most of the evening just sitting on the table.

But, even without the mask I was pretty unrecognisable because of my hair. I hadn’t practised ahead of time and had only watched a few video tutorials on youtube in the week leading up to it so basically, I was winging it. It was either going to work or it was going to become a hot mess and… well, I’m just glad that it didn’t become a hot mess.

I started out by curling my hair and pinning it with bobby pins to my head and letting them cool and set for a while. I then unpinned the curls and shook them out, pinned a hair donut to the top of my head and started the very messy process of dressing it. I was teasing, hairspraying and powdering sections of my hair with corn flour, pinning some to the hair donut to cover that and then pinning the rest to the back of my hair, below the donut. I normally have a fringe so I had to somehow try and blend it into the rest of my hair and hope that it stayed in place.

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Wondering if my hair will stay up all night…

I was ready a bit before the others so had a bit of a mini photo shoot, documenting my new look. I have to say, I don’t look like myself like this! It’s like when you dye your hair a drastically different colour or chop a whole heap off and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think ‘who’s tha- oh, that’s me.’ It’s definitely not a bad look, it’s just not one I’ve seen on me before, but it’s one that I will pull out again in the future. It’s just too fun not to (just not for work 😉

Hannah was also ready before Liane so jumped in for a few photos as well. Even with my big hair, she’s still taller than me!

And a couple of photos taken in the hallway before heading out the door…

We arrived fashionably a little late to find most people were already seated at their tables. No one else, we discovered were dressed in 18th Century attire and had just teamed formal wear with a mask. So, needless to say, we stood out a bit. We also received a standing ovation when we entered the room. Because I had entered first, I didn’t even notice people standing as I was too busy trying to negotiate between tables to reach ours but I certainly heard the clapping.

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Hannah and Liane with their masks on
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Cell phone 18th Century selfie with Hannah and Liane

We were seated with a couple we had met earlier in the year, at a different event, and a retired couple who had owned and run one of the local fabric stores (specialising in drool-worthy bridal fabrics). Guests were treated to performances from a local dance group, ending with a lively can-can, before local singer Erna Ferry took to the stage to provide live music as our entrees were brought out.

Between courses, people would head up to the dance floor and take a turn about it while others sat around and chat or visit other tables to talk. We had quite a few people drop by our table and ask us questions about what we were wearing or to take photos of us. I did have one gentleman ask if he could touch my hair, which isn’t something one normally asks to do (or does) in normal, everyday dress but I guess he was just fascinated by such a different style. I don’t know, it’s very odd.

After dessert Liane, Hannah and I all headed up to the dancefloor and danced about to a mixture of Erna Ferry’s live song covers and a mixture of recorded French Pop and 1970s disco music. I must say, that dancing to Abba while wearing an 18th Century dress is not something I thought that I would ever do. It makes for quite an interesting combination. We ended up staying on the dance floor for most of the evening, taking small breaks every now and then to have a rest or to visit the bathroom, which was very fancy.

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As the evening grew late, some of the guests started to depart and we decided to follow suit. As we gathered up our things, we were stopped by a couple of people we’d met and spoken to, who pleaded that we join them for the last dance. We obliged and headed back to the dance floor one last time and the ‘last dance’ turned into the last two dances. Thoroughly exhausted, it was then time to leave so we said our goodbyes and thanked everyone who was handing out compliments on our way to the main doors of the hotel.

Of course, being as tired as I was, I couldn’t just fall into bed when I got home because of my hair. This was the only time I regretted powdering it because I had to unpin it all and wash everything out. Three shampooings later, I was finally free of everything that was in there, and I was relieved that I hadn’t accidentally starched my hair like I had my petticoats (for which I also use corn flour…). I was way past turning into a pumpkin by the time I fell into bed at 1:15. Fortunately, I had no set plans for Sunday, so I could sleep late and then not really achieve much and feel okay about it.

All in all, I had a fantastic time and I will definitely be putting this event on my calendar for next year. And who knows, maybe we raised the bar a bit and a few other guests will turn up looking resplendent in 18th Century fashions in 2018. Regardless, I know I will be, and I hope that by then I would have been able to create my own dress that I can wear…

 

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Oh yes, this technology definitely existed in the 18th Century… didn’t it?

 

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