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Masquerade covers a wide spectrum of costumes and ideas, from the grandiose celebrations for which Venice is famed, the grand masked balls of Georgian/Regency times and populist Carnivals, especially  Mardi Gras, celebrated around the world prior to Lent.

A Masquerade is predominantly about pretending to be something that you are not. Whether you do this by wearing a costume and a true mask, or alternatively a mask of make-up, the Masquerade offers an opportunity to act 'out of oneself' with a degree of anonymity (rather like fancy dress generally).

We have special pages covering Venetian Carnival here and Mardi Gras here, but this page covers a few more general suggestions, plus details of the characters of the Halequinade, forerunner to the British concept of Pantomime.


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This is a selection of the masks currently in stock. We do not have multiples, so please check availability before travelling.

The various mask types are explained below

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Masks 101 (Basics)
Masks come in various types, some of which may not always be a practical option if you are going to a party. 

There are a good number of costumes that feature a mask as part of the outfit - notably superheroes/heroines (who usually use eye-masks of some sort), but in other situations such as a Masked Ball or Mardi Gras, the mask may be the central point of the disguise. For the purposes of most Masquerades, the following styles work best. NOTE: The majority of masks we stock (except for some of the full overhead type) are only available for sale. 

Simple Domino Masks
Plain eye-masks in a range of colours & styles, suitable for Superheroes/heroines, Highwaymen and Masked Balls.  


A popular and colourful choice, either based on the slightly more elaborate domino style of eye-mask, or upon replicas of the classic styles of Venice, such as the beak-like 'Doctor' or Loki mask, or the Harlequin.Purple/Black. A further consideration with Venetian-style masks is how you 'wear' them. Most traditional (but least convenient) is the lorgnette mask on a stick as you need a hand free to hold it to your face.. More practical are ribbon-ties or elastic and other masks come with headbands or are based on a spectacle frame.


Other Types of Mask

There are undoubtedly some excellent overhead masks on the market. They may be especially useful when it comes to Movie Star or Character parties, where one wants to capture a likeness. The problem is that almost all overhead masks can limit the ability to see, eat, drink and talk (perhaps even breathe comfortably) and, of course, as soon as one takes the mask off, the likeness is lost.

The Half-Face

A compromise solution to the issues raised for full overhead masks - the mask does not have to be held, but the wearer can still use his/her lower face for the important functions of eating and speaking.

Celebrity & Character Face-Masks
We have an ever-changing range of these popular celebrity masks available for sale. Although usually made of card, they can be surprisingly effective. Again, we have limited stocks and it is first come, first served.

Face-Bop Animal Masks
Designed not to obstruct the eyes and mouth (and therefore suitable for children), some of these make the appropriate animal sound, when the nose is pressed!

Make-up as a Mask
In some cases, the alternative to a mask is a mask-like make-up, especially for animal costumes, although some animals, such as horses, can be a challenge to create on a human face. This option has the advantage of allowing you to eat, drink, speak etc. without hindrance and in many cases, people may not recognise you behind the make-up anyway.

At Antrix we offer a range of make-up charts, plus make-up for sale for you to do-it-yourself, although in many cases, existing cosmetic resources may be sufficient. Also, there are a wide range of online tutorials on YouTube, Tik-Tok and the like to help you get creative.

The concept of Masquerade is much influences by the Italian Commedia dell'Arte tradition of the Harlequinade, a fore-runner to the British tradition of Pantomime.
It features these main Characters:

Clown:- The clown is still with us and nowadays uses make-up as his/her mask, usually starting with a blank white canvas in order to re-draw or exaggerate features. In the harlequinade, he derived from the comedy servant character Zanni (short-form of Giovanni and origin of the word 'zany') and usually used a mask and colourful clothes, to counterpoint the romantic adventures of Harlequin and Columbine, with comedy routines. He has a counterpart in French Pantomime tradition in Pierrot, an idealised white-face clown in a simple black or white costume.

Columbine:- The name means 'dovelike' and she is the sweetheart of Harlequin. Her costume is hence simple but feminine, often mirroring the diamond-check of her beau, and often features a conical hat in addition to her mask.

Devil:- Whilst not featuring directly in the Harlequinade, the word 'harlequin' has indeterminate roots, many associated with Hell (and thence the Devil): 'Hellecin' (Anglo-Saxon - 'Infernal race'), Erl-Konig (Scandanavian .- King of Elves) and Dante calls Alichino a devil of Hell. In addition, elements of the fight between Good and Evil were often present in the stories and hence the devil features in Masquerade as being the villain, a master of deceit and disguise (besides which, it's a popular costume!). (Also the black horned mask, often worn, is a bit of a giveaway).

Fairy Godmother:- In counterpoint, the Fairy Godmother-cum-Guardian Angel did feature as the Good Fairy who made everything right when all seemed lost (a direct derivation from the 'Deus ex Machina' of Greek & Roman theatre). In her later incarnation in Pantomime, she is not above disguising herself as a beggar or old woman to test the worthiness of her potential beneficiaries.

Harlequin- Hero of the Harlequinade (but note the comments on the Harlequin as Devil). He wears a simple costume, featuring diamond-pattern one-piece bodysuit (multi-coloured to reflect the colours of spring, or two-colour, as available), black bicorne hat, plus the traditional black mask.

Pantaloon:- Dressed in loose top, namesake baggy trousers and slippers (plus maskl), a foolish 16C Venetian character, father of Columbine and portrayed in the Harlequinade as the butt of the Clown's jokes - the original fall-guy!


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