Every now again, it’s nice to swap the sweatpants and boxed wine for a bit of decadence and luxury. A quick–but not always economical–fix? Throwing a majestic and mysterious Masquerade Ball. Dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, the Masquerade Ball began as part of Europe’s carnival season. Less high society and more cirque du célébration, villagers would gather in masks and costumes to take part in elaborate pageants and glamorous processions.
Quickly spreading across France like wildfire, some of the most notorious balls of the day would be held to celebrate Royal Entries: the grand occasion of welcoming kings and queens into their cities. In fact, so audacious were the masked balls that in 1393, Charles VI of France held the first ever “Bal des Ardents”. Translated as “Burning Men’s Ball”, the event transformed the more orthodoxly decadent costume ball into a night of intrigue and risk.
In celebration of the marriage of the queen’s lady in waiting, King Charles and five of his bravest courtiers dressed in masks and flax costumes and danced the night away as wildsmen of the woods. The only catch was that if your sashaying edged you too close to one of the many flaming torches that lined the dance floor, your look would be smoking–and not for the right reasons.