Thierry Quique is a man with a rather beautiful obsession – the Venetian Carnival.
In 2010, whilst Thierry was out walking with a friend in the lovely medieval village of Yvoire, Haute-Savoire, he had one of those “Eureka” moments. It was, he felt sure, the perfect setting for a Venetian Carnival parade. The beautiful and ancient town much admired by tourists and officially classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France – it was absolutely right for dressing up in the style of carnival which he had admired for so long. The mystery and magic of the Carnival, everything from the silk gloves to the plumed hats, the silent parades – appeals to Thierry’s creative side and the town of Yvoire not far from Annecy, famous for its Venetian Carnival – it seemed to him a match made in heaven.
Thierry explained to all of his friends what he wanted to do and persuaded many of them to join in with him. An avid photographer and admirer of the style of Venetian Carnival, he was gratified that so many of his friends wished to support his dream and Rêveries Vénitiennes was born.
Since their first Carnival in 2011 it has become a passion for the members of the group who promote the Venetian Carnival style around France. They are invited to visit towns where their stunning costumes are guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser and wow onlookers.
Members of Rêveries Vénitiennes dress for events in gorgeous, sumptuous gowns and suits, filled with exquisite detail, sequins and beads, these unique costumes take many hours of hard work to design and make. Traditional porcelain masks hide their features. These men and women who adore the style of Venetian Carnival costume meet at organised locations to parade in all their fabulous finery, gathering crowds of admirers and hordes of photographers wherever they go.
The Venetian Carnival history is an ancient one – the word carnival is from the Latin for “Farewell, meat!” As Lent required people to fast, all perishable food such as meat had to be used and this created an excuse for a party – particularly in the rather licentious and party loving town of Venice.
The history of the Venitian Carnival tradition really began after 1162 when pigs and bulls were slaughtered for a feast. Just over a century later, the donning of masks is mentioned in documents of the day. The wearing of masks at the Carnival allowed participants to behave in ways they might not had others been able to identify them. It allowed people from different social backgrounds to meet and created a feeling of anonymity. The masks are traditionally made from porcelain, leather or glass; no one really knows where the idea came from.
The heyday of Venetian Carnival was in the 1700s when the “Grand Tour” was at its peak – rich young noble men enhancing their education with a tour of historic sites of Europe took full advantage of the pleasure of Carnival. After that the Carnival became less popular until a revival in 1979 and it is now a major attraction in the Venetian Calendar.
The Venetian Carnival in France is also becoming increasingly popular thanks to people like Thierry Quique. The Venetian Carnival at Annecy attracts thousands of visitors every year and is a firm favourite on the French tourist calendar.
If you’re interested to join Thierry and his group or to know where they will be parading next – see the website for Rêveries Vénitiennes.