Friday, February 17, 2012
Carnival! We Love Vintage Mardi Gras
We are now officially in Carnival season. At Nerd Nite, we learned about the history of New Orleans Carnival costume design. The costumes and parades of the past are surreal. Krewes spent time and money to create original works in the spirit of competition. Some magnificent parades were from the krewes of Zulu, Rex, and the Mardi Gras Indians. These parades were inventive, with royalty and anamorphic imagery. Unfortunately, the spectacular Mardi Gras clothing and floats no longer exist, but there are photos and some drawings that help us get a glimpse of these artistic creations.
The hierarchy of New Orleans society is on full display during Mardi Gras. In the past, Krewes were often private organizations that held formal, ritzy balls closed to the public. When the city council passed a 1992 ordinance that required krewes to be more inclusive, three of the oldest groups disbanded rather than give up their exclusivity. One of the more inclusive — if ostentatious — traditions is the presentation of the Mardi Gras King and Queen.