Experience Magic at the Venetian Carnival
The Venetian Carnival in Annecy figures among one of the most anticipated events in the area…
Seemingly suspended in time, the Venetian Carnival brings a wave of magic to the city, taking visitors on a journey through a whirlpool of colors, costumes, and splendor.
This year, March 11-13, during a weekend of wonder, masked and costumed figures will stroll along the lake and through Jardins de l’Europe gardens, wander along the cobblestone streets of Old Town, and strike a pose on the bridges and narrow streets for visitors to marvel and admire.
The concept began one day in March 1996 with a small Venetian demonstration during Carnival. Organized by ARIA (the Annecy-Italy Club), the Venetian Carnival grew in size and popularity over time to become the grand event we know today, attracting more than 500 masks these last few years. While limited this year to 250 masks (from all over France and Europe) to ensure everyone’s health and safety, the Venetian Carnival remains true to its roots. In a relaxing and subtly elegant atmosphere, with no contest or ranking, the masks will roam around town at their leisure. The only condition that applies: the costumes, historical or allegorical, must be artisanal and made according to traditional standards.
© Monique Bon
One condition that is not considered an obligation by one longtime event participant who immerses herself every year in the adventure with passion: you must design, imagine, and refine every small detail of your costume, and then share this devotion with other participants and the spectators who came to marvel at them.
An encounter with Monique Bon: behind the mask!
For Monique, it all began in 1996, three years after she started traveling to Venice during Carnival to see the many beautiful costumes throughout the city’s maze of canals and cobblestone streets. Inspired, and with no real clothing design or sewing background, she dove head first into the adventure, guided by her vivid imagination and the desire to learn. She started out simple, but her costumes became more ornate year after year. Fabrics play an important role, as both a symbol and an inspiration to create, an integral part of the costume, a common thread… Turning an idea into reality that you continue to perfect day after day, treating the endeavor as if embarking on a quest: choosing just the right materials and colors while focusing on the small details that make all the difference. Monique throws her heart and soul into this very-involved work.
Monique Bon in her workshop
While Monique prefers taffeta, what she really likes is finding different ways to shape and alter the fabric: ruffles, straps, ribbons, and knots create volume and generate the intended effect, while pearls and lace add an extra touch that enhances the ensemble. Monique has a lot to say about the subject. She pays careful attention to every detail, and even makes her own accessories: from hats and headdresses to gloves and small purses… She accessorizes the shoes and makes rings, leaving nothing to chance, and does it all for fun. “Pure satisfaction comes with crafting a costume, wearing it, and then seeing the wonder in the eyes of those gazing at us and our creations. I never get tired of it,” Monique explains.
After making more than 45 costumes, her desire endures to create those magic moments preserved for all time in the memories and photo albums of thousands of visitors and photographers. Monique Bon’s hands contribute to making the magic. “Every year, I explain to visitors that the costumes can be purchased, that each one is a unique work of art, the fruit of the vivid imaginations and hard-earned expertise of the women and men who put their hearts in to making them. They listen in amazement.”
Among the velour ruffles, satin ribbons, and pearl decorated jewelry, enjoy the wonder of this enchanting event. As always, the Venetian Carnival in Annecy includes an extra special something that we owe to the gloved hands and all those smiling behind their masks: equality through anonymity, in line with Carnival tradition.
If you look closely, you should be able to spot Monique… a few green notes here and there, and taffeta, of course. We will say no more to keep the mystery alive…
© Monique Bon
New for 2022: evening promenade on Friday night
For the very first time, certain masks will parade on Friday evening, from 18:00 to 20:00, between “Square des Martyrs de la Déportation” and Saint-François Church. This magical touch and the resulting nighttime photos will create an even more mysterious aura than usual.
- © Olivier Puthon
Journalist: Gaëlle Tagliabue
Translation: Darin Reisman