13th February 2010 We are coming up to the height of the
Carnival period, with Martedì Grasso (Shrove Tuesday) on the 16th February this year. If you are thinking of dressing up and heading off to a special carnival party or even to Venice, the Livorno-based Costumeria Panciatici can help you out.
Tucked away on the first floor of a palazzo in Via Magenta, the Costumeria Panciatici is a family-run costume hire business that has been going for more than 30 years.
The business began as Capricci di Carnivale, making children's carnival costumes, but has developed well beyond this today. The Panciatici family concentrate on costumes for adults and there are over 500 costumes to choose from, all lovingly hand-made by Gabriella and her sister-in-law Laila, with the help of Gabriella's mother, and her husband Gino.
Gabriella and Laila have a passion for the theatre, and for beautiful fabrics. Wherever they go, they search out unusual and rare pieces of material that they can use for their costumes. Each costume takes about a month to make. The range of costumes is enormous, from popular fairy tale characters, to sumptuous dresses from the 18th-century, one of the most requested eras.
Past customers include Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and choreographer Lindsay Kemp who had the costumes for his recent show made here. The Panciatici family are currently working on costumes for a theatrical performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor due to take place in Liguria later in the year. Their costumes are also frequently hired by people going to Venice Carnival where they have won prizes.
One of their most memorable commissions was for a wedding in a snowy Tuscan village on New Year's Eve where all fifty guests dressed in 18th-century gowns.
To hire a costume from the Costumeria Panciatici it costs from 30 to 100 euros, depending obviously on the costume you choose. Each costume is carefully adjusted for a perfect fit.
Even if you don't need a costume at the moment, next time you go down Via Magenta, look up at the windows on the first floor of number 93 for a preview of Panciatici's costumes.