There’s something so enticing about masquerade; beauty masked with intrigue is certainly a tempting notion. My fascination with the concept began in school, born out of my love of Shakespeare and his exploration of disguise. Who better than to depict the magic of a mask than arguably the greatest poet of all time? No such scene paints a grander picture in my head than act I, scene V in Romeo and Juliet when a young Romeo first lays eyes on the masked Juliet at the Capulet’s masquerade feast. Romantic yet mysterious, it’s this scene which instigated my burning desire to attend a masquerade ball, and on Saturday night that fantasy was realised.
In a manner befitting of modern-day Shakespearean elegance, yet cheeky enough to offset any pretension, the Les Gens Winter Masquerade Ball held in Marivare House in Epsom was everything I hoped it would be, and more. One hundred guests descended upon the historic Auckland home for a night of music, dancing and elegant dress. An ambitious occasion with a remarkable outcome.
There’s something so fun about getting really dressed up; I suppose it’s a girl thing. Having not been to a ball since school I was dead-set on going all out for this one, planning my attire with careful consideration – not something I usually do. I was lucky enough to wear a stunning custom red ball gown by the incredible designer Trish Peng; the ‘Manhattan’ design reminiscent of Julia Roberts à la Pretty Woman. Richard Gere eat your heart out! The dress featured an alluring off-the-shoulder cap sleeve that created this really sensual, falling off the shoulders type of feeling as opposed to a structured rigidity. Beautifully balanced by the high front split, the dress exposed just enough leg to tease without conceding class; the curvaceous, womanly silhouette perfectly evoked that old-school Hollywood glamour of a 1950s movie star. I mean who can resist a lady in red?
Instead of a conventional mask I chose to wear a black-netted birdcage veil which I ordered from Etsy. Concealing one eye, it was a sexy yet less obvious play on masquerade. For my hair I opted for a sleek wave courtesy of the lovely Chloe Zara. With such a statement dress, less was definitely more when it came to make-up, wearing only lashings of thick black Diorshow mascara to balance a perfect red Lady Danger lip. Red nails, fine gold jewellery and strappy sky-high heels completed the look.
With no expense spared, guests more than got their money’s worth. Tickets cost $100 which included complimentary Uber rides to and from the event; a delicious selection of never-ending drinks including Grey Goose Fizz cocktails, champagne, Bellinis with puréed strawberries, East Imperial tonic, and Moa beer; canapés by The Kitchen Collective which were perfectly bit-sized to prevent any lipstick mishaps; and of course a night in undoubtedly one of the most beautiful settings I have seen in a long time. The ballroom walls were covered with glittering fairy lights while hanging from the conservatory outside were delicate floral decorations interspersed with glowing tea lights. Forget the food, this was a visual feast if ever I saw one.
Sure, a masquerade ball may sound pretentious, but this was most definitely a party. Buzzing with energy, the room was alive with laughter and fun, with guests dancing all night the upbeat tunes of local DJ Clare Duncan. Of course it was made all the better with beautiful dresses and men in suits (which is ALWAYS a good thing), but throw in some masquerade masks and it was all kinds of wonderful. I only wish I could do it all over again. Three words: Take. Me. Back.
Oh, what a night! My very own midwinter night’s dream; something perfectly out of the Auckland ordinary and the very best excuse to really dress-up. Let’s just say Les Gens knows how to throw a party, and the people know how to have fun. Sweet surrender, what a night!