The Renaissance movement spanned a few centuries, spread into several countries, and contained a vast spectrum of ingredients—from bejeweled maidens, merriment, and rhythmic prancing to darkness, imprisoned lovers, hellish deaths, and just about anything else you could imagine. And recently in Bonney Lake, the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire celebrated the living shit out of all of it.
If you missed it, go next year. The annual event is crammed with jousting knights, dirt roads, plastic skeletons, smoked turkey drumsticks, hay-bale seating, endless duetting lute-lyre jams, fake accents, and good times. Many attendees wear spotlessly replicated medieval ensembles, while others pair Renaissance basics with neon feather boas or athletic toe shoes, presumably to make their looks more "now." Watch for tapestry unicorns encrusted with pearls, tri-corner hats, laces threaded through eyelets, knee-high boots with floppy cuffs, and raw leather tunics. Peasant blouses are a big hit, too. The men leave them untucked, while the women layer theirs under corsets that simultaneously cinch their torsos and shift their breasts, causing the latter to flatten into strange shapes or bubble vividly upward.
Also in the well-wadded and eagerly-jutting-out category, codpieces make a bold statement, though it's unclear what that statement actually is. Fashion historians have long debated the codpiece's function. It might have been armor, or functioned as an alarmingly intimate purse for coins and keys, or secured a paste of medicinal ointments back when syphilis was going around like crazy. Who knows, perhaps it did all three things at once. Even still, codpieces look ridiculous today, so don't expect to see them in stores anytime soon. (Worth noting: Writer, activist, and Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver attempted to revive codpieces in the mid-1970s. Using Soul on Ice royalties, he designed, manufactured, and earnestly marketed the multicolored, slim-fit, junk-accentuating trousers known as "penis pants," but the line failed to catch on.)
What else? Merchant tents are everywhere, including Seven Meadows Archery, marked by a heavily eyelinered male mannequin outfitted in turban, fur mantle, and fashiony power pose to embody a hotsy-totsy mythic-barbarian vibe. The Magickal Aardvark carries a huge and shimmery selection of floor-length cloaks (polyester, $145). And Treasures from the Cairn sells coyote-face hides—buy them separately ($5 each) or embellished on a pouch ($19), perfectly sized to carry the half-eaten peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich you bring on journeys into the forest.
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