In 1500s Europe, masks were fashionable and outrageous

By the 1700s, Venice had become Europe’s “city of masks” thanks to the popularity of its Carnival; and the fashion for wearing masks in public also began to take hold at other social events. The nice women wore a morettathe Venetian version of the vizard, which was usually complemented by a wide-brimmed hat and veil.

Half masks, also worn by men, were also typical, although often in white. called a maschera, he was tucked into a black tricorn hat to guard it. Much like in Paris and London, the use of masks in daily life in Venice has allowed for more social exchange in a highly stratified society, whether in theatres, cafes, markets or parks.

(This 19th century dandy rewrote the rules of men’s fashion.)

About the face

As mask-wearing evolved, however, ladies who saw it as a way to protect their virtue in theaters were joined by sex workers who wore them to conceal their identities, as well as to pique curiosity. and intrigue by dressing as aristocrats, not just in theaters. but in gambling houses. It turned an evening of entertainment into a guessing game about who belonged to good society and who did not. As the English writer John Dryden said in the second part of his 1670 play The conquest of Granada“these Vizard Masks maintain this Fashion, / To soothe and tickle the sweet Imagination.”