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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

La Dama Nera 黑寡婦

La Dama Nera - a costume in Victorian style, full of mystery, suspense, and illusion.

The Victorians' fascination with death affected many aspects of their lives, including the way they dressed.

I chanced upon Michy Reine, one of the famed beauties at the Venice Carnevale, so I asked her for a few photos. These are just done on the busy streets of Venice and as usual, using natural lighting only....

The Venice Carenvale is not solely about masks, many locals prefer painted faces and/ or historical costumes. They make really wonderful travel portraits. At my most recent exhibition at Sharjah's EXPO - the world's biggest photography event, I had many famous photographers coming up to my booth to say how they liked the mix of masks and non-masked photos at my show. They all agree that solely masks alone would be too stiff and too boring.

During the Victorian era, the fascination with death permeated various aspects of society, influencing not only mourning customs but also fashion choices. The funereal trends of the time reflected a deep cultural significance attached to bereavement and remembrance.

In 19th century Britain, mourning behavior evolved into a sophisticated set of rituals and norms that governed how individuals expressed their grief outwardly. Families adhered to strict protocols, donning somber black attire as a symbol of respect following the passing of a loved one. This attire extended beyond mere clothing—it became a visual language of loss and mourning.

Queen Victoria, often regarded as the epitome of mourning in the Victorian era, personified this somber aesthetic following the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. Contrary to the customary mourning period of up to two years for widows, Queen Victoria chose to wear black for the remainder of her life—a striking departure from convention that left an indelible mark on Victorian mourning practices.

The pervasive nature of mourning attire in Victorian society underscores the profound impact of death on the cultural fabric of the era. Through their sartorial choices, individuals communicated not only their personal loss but also their adherence to societal norms and traditions surrounding death and grief.

As the 'Woman in Black', Queen Victoria's enduring commitment to mourning attire serves as a poignant reminder of the intricate interplay between fashion, culture, and mortality during the Victorian period. The legacy of Victorian mourning customs endures as a testament to the complex emotions and social dynamics surrounding death in the 19th century.

Intricately woven into the tapestry of Victorian life, the tradition of wearing black as a symbol of mourning stands as a powerful emblem of remembrance and respect for the departed. The somber elegance of mourning attire served as a visual tribute to the deceased, embodying the solemnity and reverence with which the Victorians approached the inevitability of death.

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