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The V&A stunningly lit up at night

to a Renaissance Masked Ball to celebrate the opening of the Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) with a night of unique demonstrations, workshops, performances and readings, in addition to a parade of Renaissance-inspired dresses, all accompanied by a programme of live music and performances. The ball is a free event thanks to the generostiy of the museum, but we have promised them a beautifully dressed audience, so please wear your finest sparkling ball attire and mask. RSVP is necessary.

Arias from Purcell’s “Fairyqueen”

Madrigals from the Renaissance and Early Baroque Period

The Little Theatre of Dolls present Commedia dell’Arte

Lavaterian Silhouettes by Simon Warner

The Entrance Hall

This ball has basically defined me and Valerie’s week. After hesitantly mentioning the rumours about a Renaissance ball to her on Tuesday morning, thinking there would have to be some catch with a free masquerade, she looked at me as if the world had opened up before her eyes. A few minutes later I threw myself over the computer and signed us both up for the guest list, none of us caring about the fact that we didn’t have a single rag to wear to a ball. Valerie threw herself on the phone to get her mom to ship her stunning blue ball gown with express mail from the US, while I browsed the website of literally every singe store on Oxford Street to see if I could find some gowns on sale. I found a lovely sparkly, purple halterneck at Jane Norman reduced from £40 to only £12, and although it is definitely not Renaissance, I think it qualifies for the required ball attire. I decided to do a modern, sexy twist of a Renaissance masquerade-goer, having never in my life worn anything quite as skin-tight. (Seriously, the dress is practically a tube you slip your body into). Had an inner debate with myself whether or not I’d dare wear anything quite so revealing, but after lots of reassurances from friends and boyfriend, I figured this is the decade where I am still young and skinny and can actually pull off such outfits. Later I rushed to the Angels Fancy Dress Shop at Shaftsbury avenue to get a matching silver mask, and kind Valerie provided me with silver gloves and a purple stone pendant for me to wear around my neck. I think we both agree that this was an event worth splurging money on – how often do you get the chance to wear a long gown and walk down the grand corridors of the V&A feeling like a princess for a night?

It was a wonderful, cultural way to spend a Friday evening – a nice change from the usual clubbing and drinking, and definitely something I will seek out to do more often in the future. There was no waltzing which was kind of disappointing, but there was a DJ (!) playing classical music while the guests all walked around mingling, enjoying the gallery displays and admiring each other’s outfits. The latter was definitely the most fun part. Some had really taken it all the way and looked as if they had stepped right out of some BBC costume drama. There were even a couple of men in Regency outfits bearing a striking resemblance to Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, making us swoon and twist and turn our heads in all directions. I told Valerie that never had there been so many attractive examples of the male species gathered under one roof. (My boyfriend is reading as I write, and he is giving me the evil eye, going “my my!!”). Actually, my head went in all directions all the time, because there were so many stunning costumes and masks around me, and as you can see from the photos, I went ballistic with my camera, asking lots of flattered strangers to take their photo.

Some random cute Asian dude asking to take a photo with us. We happily obliged.

I just had to get a picture of these lovely ladies!

Me posing in my newly aquired halterneck and not feeling all too shabby.

Feeling like a queen

The Sun King Louis XIIII. This guy attracted a lot of attention!

Excited ball attendants coming down the stairs in their finest costumes

Valerie in her stunning Cinderella gown which caused quite a lot of heads to turn!

These people were so full of admiration for Valerie's dress, and we of theirs, so I took a photo of them all!

Two Renaissance ladies checking out the V&A fashion galleries.

Sneaking away to do some photowhoring. This large window reminded me of "The Beauty and The Beast".

Students from some London fashion academy showing off their Renaissance-inspired attire.

Victorian latex ladies.

I loved this couple - they sewed their outfits together!

A musketeer and his two girlfriends!

Living in London is such a wonderful experience. I am so glad I had the opportunity to come here, and I am so glad I took it.