Carnival season reaches its climax on "Mardi Gras" ("Fat Tuesday", 9th February this year), the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. People who may find themselves visiting countries celebrating Carnival will have the chance this weekend and on Tuesday to join parades and dress up in extravagant costumes. Multi-coloured confetti and streamers are ever present during the Carnival season.
Historians claim that the throwing of confetti is a typical tradition from Basel (where they organise the biggest Carnival in Switzerland) that spread to the rest of the world (apparently, the amount of confetti used during Basler Fasnacht is huge in comparison to other carnivals). The original confetti were actually sweets similar to the eponymous Italian small sugar coated almonds (mainly offered in Italy at special celebrations such as weddings and christenings), replaced by small shards of paper in the 19th century.
Fashion has a lot to do with Carnival if you think about the concept of masquerading or donning a costume, but what has it got to do with confetti? Well, confetti naturally call to mind polkadots, or little dots punctuating clothes and garments as it happens in this piece preserved in the archive of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum in Getaria, Spain.
Designed for the 1962 Winter season, this grey cheviot wool suit and coat belonged to the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. The design was made using a traditional tweed fabric that called to mind men's suits but with a colourful feminine touch - a sprinkle of multi-coloured wool dots similar to confetti.
This reinterpretation of the male suit consisted in three parts (based on traditional garments such as a sweater and a coat) - a top, a cape and a skirt.
The long-sleeved top had a front opening, a loose silhouette and flap pockets; the skirt was long and straight, gathered at the waist and the matching buttoned cape featured armhole slits.
Though the ensemble was elegantly formal, the colourful micro dots added to it a colourful and fun twist.
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