Masked merriment


POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2008

If you've ever created an elaborate Halloween costume, only to experience the sad dissonance of topping it with a flimsy paper or plastic mask, you'll be relieved to note your masked fantasies may come true with the opening of Masquerade by Joseph K., whose new carts at Pearlridge Center Uptown, Windward Mall and Ala Moana Center (near Sephora) offer an array of Venetian papier-mache and gesso, and metal wire masks for All Hallow's Eve and beyond.

“;They're a lot of fun, not only to wear and to get attention, but as decor,”; said company owner and president Karen Sotomura. “;People buy them to wear and put them up on their wall afterward.”;

The masks, adorned with varying combinations of glitter, rhinestones, ribbons and feathers, start at $29.95, with the most elaborate, of metal, or featuring ostrich feathers, running $119.95 to $149.95. They will also be featured in Joseph K. & Co.'s Santa's Pen holiday shop opening at Kahala Mall Oct. 25.

Joseph K. & Co. started in 1985, specializing in Christmas ornaments and gift items that can be personalized, and Sotomura said she discovered the Italian-made masks while looking for a line of merchandise suitable for October, a typically slow retail month.

After Halloween, the kiosks' focus will be on Christmas merchandise, but Sotomura said the masks will return in advance of New Year celebrations and Mardi Gras/Carnival season, for which the masks were originally created.

“;The whole idea of the mask goes back to the history of Carnival when people could create mischief without others knowing who they were,”; Sotomura said.

The first Carnival of Venice was recorded in the 13th century and marked one last decadent celebration before the reverence of 40 days of Lent.

Sotomura noted the masks' power to transform their wearers. “;A mask really helps them to get into character. If you're wearing a beautiful mask, you don't really need an elaborate costume. The mask becomes the costume.

“;People love trying them on. It's definitely like wearing a designer dress or trying on pretty jewelry.”;