I always try to find themes for my costumes that somehow relate to Venice and its history.
In 2003 the opera house of La Fenice was re-opened. I had found a beautiful old Laura Ashley curtain on a flea market that exactly matched the interior colour of the Fenice. So I made a 2 metre wide skirt and put a stage curtain of red velvet on the front, garnished by the Fenice crest. The mask also resembles a Phoenix.
The crinoline (the underwiring of the skirt) was made by an old craftsman here in the north of Germany. It was made of willow branches and is so wide that it almost touched the walls of the narrow streets of Venice.
The box to transport it to Venice was a cardboard box for a shower door, 2 metres by 1,5 metres to the back. Just 5cm high but the vaporetto drivers refused to let it on the boat so my poor hubby had to carry that huge thing on his head to the bus station. We almost missed our flight back to Hamburg. And the box together with two suitcases got lost on the flight to Venice. We took a flight via Prague and we saw how the big box was unloaded but when we arrived in Venice it did not show up in Venice for four days. Had tags from many cities in Europe when it finally came.
When we did not get the luggage, I was so desperate – because without the crinoline it was impossible to wear the huge skirt – that our landlord who picked us up at the airport wanted to help. So in broken Italian I tried to explain what was lost and we finally drove half of the afternoon through the suburbs of Venice to every hardware store we could find to get tubes, wire etc. to fix a replacement. We ended up in Roberto’s garage and ductaped a second crinoline. It looked terrible, did of course just halfway fit the purpose. So the photos where the skirt looks tilted are the ones where we used the faked crinoline. But the real one showed up just in time for the sfilata (the competition). Unfortunately Vivienne Westwood who was on the jury was still taken by the performance of the guy in front of us (my now friend Gianluigi) so she did not really pay attention to my dress. If at that point someone would have told me that I would win the competition even three times in a row I would have told him to be a dreamer.