I am a Carnival
curmudgeon purist. Ne’er shall a morsel of king cake cross my lips prior to Epiphany, nor shall a strand of beads bedizen my neck after Ash Wednesday. However, part of me wishes every day could be Mardi Gras. So it was a delight to indulge that side last weekend at a preview party* for the new Louisiana State Museum exhibit From the Big Apple to the Big Easy: Two Carnival Artists. Cosponsored by Fashion Week NOLA and the Friends of the Cabildo, it featured original sketches by Helen Clark Warren (1895-1973) and John C. Scheffler (1939-2012).
I have a pretty big hard-on for Carnival costume design, bulletin design, bal masqué invitation design… and it’s easy to see why. Check this out! It’s a 1991 costume sketch for the Krewe of Aphrodite by Scheffler, titled Flamingos and Orchids.
And this riot of macaws, same designer, krewe and year, reflects the theme Aphrodite’s Tropical Paradise to a T.
Not too be upstaged by these fine ladies, yrs truly donned her most colorful Trashy Diva dress.
Of course, some ladies were relatively demure, like this exorbitantly trained 1946 Queen of High Priests of Mithra by Helen Clark Warren. (Surprisingly, the design was deigned “too ostentatious” and rejected by the krewe.)
A brass band regaled the crowd.
And there was QUITE a crowd!
There’s also a smorgasbord of other Carnival ephemera, including this stunner, as well as floats, band uniforms, throws, paintings, timelines…
I’d advise anyone who doesn’t hate life to visit the Presbytere and check the exhibit out. It’s only $6.
*Shoutout to Wayne Phillips, curator of Carnival collections for the Louisiana State Museum, for inviting me.