This year, I had three big Carnival opportunities to costume: the Krewe du Vieux parade, dancing with the Nawlins Nymphs in Le Krewe d’Etat and, of course, Mardi Gras Day. Those of you who aren’t familiar with these phenomena should read Arthur Hardy’s handy-dandy Mardi Gras Fundamentals before you head into this post. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Coldest and wettest Mardi Gras Day since the 1890s.
1. Krewe du Vieux Parade 2014
The Mother Krewe’s theme was Where The Vile Things Are, while our subkrewe Krewe de C.R.A.P.S. came up with the theme of The Guv At Twerk. Our float was pure genius, with Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal and his behind rigged to twerk against “Robin Thicke” and wonderful artistry on the side panels. The costume plan was for all 65 of us to dress up in multi-colored fluorescent tshirts, emblazoned with Jindal-Cyrus’s face, along with hats designed to depict various bayou fauna such as pelicans, alligators and crawfish. The critter hats are cute, but in my opinion, there was just too much going on with that costume. For one, it violates Maitri’s First Rule of Costuming*: Look fabulous and immediately recognizable. If onlookers cannot figure out what’s going on with your costume in under five seconds, especially when you are walking by quickly in a group, you’ve lost them.
So, I decided to simply Miley it up with a handmade copy of the infamous VMA-awards onesie, blonde hair, foam finger and the tongue. Kudos to my husband, D, for reproducing Twerkin Teddy (yes, really) with multi-colored swatches of adhesive fleece. D, meanwhile, abandoned this year’s costume suggestion altogether and walked the parade as New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. (It would have been criminal for him not to do so. He looks so much like Ryan in that wig, a couple of people on the route began chatting Saints defense strategies with him. Talk about instant recognition.)
Love that gold tooth.
2. Nawlins Nymphs
Every big New Orleans Carnival parade is required by City Ordinance to place a marching band, dancing krewe or some other kind of on-foot entertainment between the float trucks. The Nawlins Nymphs are a three-year-old Carnival dancing krewe, comprised of approximately 50 women who are engineers, scientists, lawyers and businesspeople by day, that performs a number of choreographed dances over the course of the six-mile Le Krewe d’Etat parade. Some of the women are also spouses of the all-male d’Etat dance krewe, the Dancin’ Dawlins. This year’s Nawlins Nymphs theme was NOLA Shades Of Grey, so we were dressed in a man’s white dress shirt with silver tie, fishnet stockings, grey hair, wire-rimmed granny glasses and silver-sequined Chuckies. I am guessing the idea was to satirize the book Fifty Shades Of Grey (which I refuse to read on literary grounds) with a play on the word grey.
Not a lot of costume construction required here, but my eye makeup and hair turned out nice. It was kinda comforting to know what my hair will look like a few decades from now. Kinda.
50 Shades of Geophysics at the parade staging area.
3. Mardi Gras Day
We always say we’re going to start working on next year’s costume as soon as possible, but that’s like saying we’re going to get a headstart on taxes or Christmas shopping. It never happens. The same was true this year, but I am very proud of us for staying up only until 3am on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday to get most of our pieces together. The biggest roadblock is the theme: If you decide on a theme this year and have a better idea later in the year (or on Lundi Gras), you have to start all over again. At any rate, D and I decided a month in advance that we were going as The Absinthe Fairy and The Day After Absinthe (I’d wear a lot of green and he’d dress as Death, essentially).
As you may know, I make a new Mardi Gras Day mask each year; somehow, a whole bunch of purple snuck into this year’s mask. And what Absinthe Fairy wears purple, I ask you.
But, the sparkly purple was so pretty!
Thus, the Mardi Gras Day Absinthe Fairy was born and D became Ash Wednesday Death. Following that, it hit me that I don’t drink absinthe (anise + anise in liquor = yuk) and was going to take a bottle of Chartreuse as an offering to the annual secret rendezvous of the Mystick Krewe of Chartreuse on Mardi Gras Day. Remember Maitri’s First Rule of Costuming? The Mardi Gras Day Absinthe Fairy Walking Around With A Bottle Of Chartreuse definitely violates it. And, so, I became The Mardi Gras Chartreuse Fairy and D remained Death. Yes, it was all just an elaborate plan on his part to walk around in a large black monk/sith robe under which he could wear whatever he so pleased. For the first time, I personally sewed a costume component, i.e. the apron of masks I wore over the tutu. D’s robe, however, took the most construction and sewing of the season, using a variation on Rebel Legion’s Jedi Master Robe pattern.
Darth Mardi Gras
We were all set to ramble through the Marigny and French Quarter in the sunshine, until 35 DEGREES AND SLEET WTF404NOTFOUND showed up on the weather report, which forced us to add more clothing (read: thermal underwear) right before we ran to meet the St. Anthony Ramblers and explains the umbrella and wet robes in the picture at the start of this post. Oh, well. Mardi Gras must go on. And it did.
Here are the full Krewe du Vieux 2014 and Carnival 2014 photo galleries.
*My second and third Rules of Costuming are “You have to be able to go to the bathroom with minimal costume removal” and “Always allow for Carnival pudge.”