HORST RAACK- Costume Designer

Once in a while one runs across someone doing something that is so unique it astounds one. A couple of years ago I received an order for the Faberge egg fabric. It was not a large amount, and because I like to fill the mailer, I inquired if they needed more. The answer that came back, about what it was to be used for, was a surprise.


Horst Raack, from Germany, is the man who bought the fabric. He is a goldsmith and costume designer. He needed the Faberge egg fabric as he was doing costumes for the competition of the prestigious Carnevale di Venezia in 2011. That is the Venice carneval costume competition. The judges and jury are theatre and movie designers from around the world, many who have won Oscars for their own work. And guess what- he won first prize for the best costumes! This is the second time he has done so. The first time was in 2009, with a six-piece costume fantasy, “The Travels of Marco Polo”. This time it was for series named “La Famille Faberge”, “The Faberge Family”.

In 2003 Raack was given a trip to Carneval in Venice. It poured rain and he and his friends were sick. It did not matter- the trip kindled a passion for fancy costumes. His started out using old theater costumes, redesigning them. But now his costumes are totally designed by him. Though he has never meant for the costumes to be historical in nature, they are rooted in tradition. Taking inspiration from the Barogue and Rococo they stand on their own merits, bridging historical and inspiration, blending tradition with fantasy.

He finds his inspiration, and within his head envisions the costumes. He has never learned to work using a pattern, but designs them on a mannequin. This means each costume is unique. It also means he can not do custom costumes  or dresses as he has never mastered making or using a pattern. He finds his fabrics online, in flee markets, where ever he can, and marrys them together into a rich collage. Old curtains and an old sewing machine from a flea market were his beginning.



A floral motif has flowers everywhere: hats, gowns, coats.





While the above seem glorious, Herr Raack built upon these costumes for even more magnificence with more intricate layering of fabrics and materials.


An oh so Venice look!


Fur, feathers, tassels, on a brocaded fabric, lined with lilac,
make a sumptious cape.





Peacock feathers, mink fur, gilding… a design statement.

In 2009 Horst Raack presented a group of six costumes at the festival.
They collection is called “THE TRAVELS OF MARCO POLO”
It represents the link between Venice, Italy, and the Far East.
The collection as a whole won first place.




These fantacy costumes were based on Asian fashions of the the 18th century.



Elaborate caging, applique work, reverse applique work, layerd fabrics, ruching, lace, incredible detailing…
seaming, piping ..
The mix of chinoiserie and European fabrics make for a truely amazing interaction of fabric and materials.
The attention to small things- the fichue on the lady in pink…
the hair on the lady in red,
and one has to love the parasols, purses, and the tassels and small lanterns that are everywhere!
All this proves that the smallest detail matters!




Small things matter!

Love the parti colored mask on the man, recalling older Venetian festivals.
The use of color is amazing…
Her bodice is a toile fabric with orange, red,and saffron yellow.
The collar, with details of the same tones, is the larger print used for the bottom of the costume, which is in the form of a lantern. It is trimmed in maroon, which matches her mask, with black accents.
His grey coat uses the same larger print on his collar, and is also trimmed in maroon.
His waist coat and hat complete the look.
Her amazing hair, recalling the braids of Oriental girls, goes with his makeup, cravat, and gloves.
The lanterns hanging from her hair gild the whole!


An example of how every details is thought out.
One sees the lanterns hanging from the lady’s braids,
but then there is the surprise of the maroon lanterns hanging from the tips of the parasol stays!
And note her mask matches the collar and bodice of here dress.
The edging of the bodice and collar are used again to finish her hat and pendant.




Herr Raack starts planning three years in advance for the carneval that he will enter. It was in August of 2009 that he bought the piece of Faberge egg fabric from us. For the year 2011 he envisioned four travelers on their way to Venice. He named this series “La Famille Faberge”,” The Faberge Family”.






A beplumed headress has the added cachet of an egg embellished with a silver carriage.
This harks back to the Coronation Egg.
Faberge made it to commemorate the coronation of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra.
It was an enamelled gold egg that opened to reveal a replica of the Imperial coach used to carry her to the coronation.
The choker with pictures of Russian nobility, trimmed with silver, adds an extra special touch to the whole costume, as does the pendant and her mask,
tying in with the rondals of portraits that embellish the dress and egg-like panniers.


In these pictures one can see how much thought goes into the co-ordination between the different
parts of each ensemble. And while each outfit stands on its own, they are co-ordinated through out the group, so that each outfit interacts with the other outfits of the group.





The Faberge eggs from our fabric have been appliqued
to the waist coat of the man on the left and to the face and turned back cuffs of the frock coat of the man on the right.
They can also be seen on the woman’s gowns



Herr Raack is already planning his next group of costumes for
the Venice Carneval season of 2013
we can hardly wait to see what he dreams up!


is out of production at this point.
For other novelty fabric see the NOVELTY FABRIC CATEGORY

All pictures are the property of Horst Raack
they are used with his permission.
For more about Horst Raack, his costumes, and the Venice Carneval see his website

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