I have debated long and hard these past weeks on whether or not I should do my annual costume review with each band that launched for the Carnival 2016 season. You see, gone are the days when candid constructive criticism would be taken as merely one person’s opinion; nowadays everyone is offended by everything and frankly finding the exact words to express myself without stepping on the fragile egos of designers, offending the band employees/committee or those mas band sycophants has become tiring. If it isn’t scathing retorts on social media by the indignantly upset parties it’s my personal time and space being infringed with requests to censor my thoughts so as not to upset people’s sensitivities. This is the price paid for no longer being as anonymous as I thought. In the end the fact that I absolutely dislike being instructed (no matter how nicely it comes across) on what I should say and how I should say it and that this website/blog/piece of cyberspace has ALWAYS been about expressing my personal opinions as well as experiences led to my decision to do this review. After much deliberation, I decided that at the end of the day I need to stay true to the genesis of Trinidad Carnival Diary and most importantly myself. Consequently, my 2016 costume review will be a bit different as I highlight ONLY the stand out costumes of each band for Carnival 2016 as well as my personal favourites. If your costume, as a designer, does not appear in this review that means it fell into one or more of the following categories: *Uninspiring and unimaginative. *Bland and boring. *Lacking creativity and general appeal. * Repetitive designs, yawn. *Not impressed. *Not worth the hype. *Hideous. *Beyond Hideous. *Will not be caught dead wearing it. *Ugh, not even for free! *Vomit. Good luck figuring out which applies to your costume!
Stand Out Costumes Boho Chic – My standout costume of Harts presentation VOGUE. Harts has always presented an ode to the traditional Fancy Indian in each of their presentations, I was very surprised that the honour to design one of their hallmarks went to a new designer, however it was very well executed to theme. The most interesting aspect of this costume is the string used to create a dream catcher effect on the headpiece and cape, very innovative. I also liked the beaded detail on the necklace which extends to the bra. My only critique would be that the belt seems lacking in beads (what is the point of the gold chain draping?) and that on the frontline I can literally count each feather with ease; the Individual headpiece size is more up my alley. Noire – A very sexy costume that reminds me of what old Harts used to look like. While I am not a fan of black costumes generally, I do love that headpiece shape and feather work. I prefer the monokini option for body wear rather than the standard bra and belt, coupled with the leg pieces Noire evokes an edgy slightly dominatrix vibe. Will I wear it? Yes! Bijoux – It is all about that headpiece and the neon/nude colour combination. Bijoux was the prettiest costume in the mas camp for me personally, I absolutely love the neck detail and body wear on the section leader as well. Overall presentation I did not attend Harts launch this year due to prior commitments, but I did visit their mas camp on opening and had a first hand, close up view of all the costumes. The first thing that should be noted is that Harts’ new alliance with the Bliss/TRIBE family has produced obvious striking changes to both their costuming and mas camp. Gone is the old showroom with costumes hanging from every available space, the familiar old house has been converted into a sleek contemporary all white showroom that makes you feel like you are right back at TRIBE; familiar yet brand new. And as for costuming, Harts known for their extravagant headpieces, vibrant colour combinations and innovative body wear is all muted in shades of pastel, save one or two costumes that are a shadow of what Harts costuming used to be.
Stand Out Costumes Ava – If I were to play in any other costume but Goddess for Carnival 2016, Ava would be my choice, car wash drapes and all. This is the costume that gets you excited upon sight about playing mas. As a masquerader it is awesome when one can envision transforming into the character portrayal, I can already see the brilliant colours under the sun on the road come Carnival Tuesday. Ava sets imaginations wild with makeup and hair ideas, not to mention for the price point it is easy to add more accessories. and individualize the costume at whim and fancy. Ladies if you choose Ava please do her justice and make a statement on the road . Dimanche Male – This is the best male design I have seen thus far for Carnival 2016, giving the men who desire a substantial costume room to spread their wings, while still retaining a masculine aesthetic. In other words it is not just a larger (feathered female) headpiece slapped on a male costume with the standard board shorts. Pretty Mas – The name seems somewhat disconnected to the actual costume portrayal of a flower, however I really like the details in this costume. I love how the body wear evokes the stem of the flower while the collar and headpiece is softly blooming, a very pretty costume that looks like a grown up spin on kiddies mas. Will I wear it? Yes! Ava in a hot minute! Overall presentation While not revolutionizing mas quite yet, I think the Lost Tribe is a great concept in filling a void for those masqueraders who have grown tired and bored of bikini and beads, while still wanting TRIBE’s efficient road management and service. Hopefully in future the costumes will push the envelope further than basically just switching out feathers for fabric (saw what you did there TRIBE) while keeping the pricing affordable for a fully all inclusive experience.
Stand Out Costumes Igazu – Bling and feathers, what is not to love with one of the most sparkly costumes from TRIBE ever? Curiously , Igazu does not seem to fit the usual understated, under decorated TRIBE costume construct; the glamour of this costume sets it apart from the rest.
The frontline is simple but effective, love it! Scorpion Sting– This costume is Fire! The body wear detailing is what sells this costume for me as this designer always takes risks in presenting very skimpy bodywear that’s also tastefully sexy. Although on the night of the launch the colours were not a stand out I still think this will have road impact in sunlight. Will I wear it? Yes! Azalea– I adore the the colour combination of this costume as well as the headpiece shape/design and body wear on this offering from Solange Govia. Overall presentation Beyond the initial pomp and ceremony that comes with showing ONLY Individual and Frontline costumes at the launch, for me TRIBE costumes seem to be lacking a wow factor for 2016; I am unimpressed by the majority of the sections on offer. As we all know, however, costume design is not what TRIBE sells themselves on and frankly I think it shows. Not that costume matters to their clientele anyway, as every year the majority play Russian roulette during registration. One can only hope and pray as a potential TRIBE masquerader that you get into a section you prefer or settle for what is available. If TRIBE is your band of choice, costume is secondary.
Stand Out Costumes Dandelion – This costume (Frontline) is perfection to theme, one only needs to look at the costume and see the masquerader enveloped within the flower, love it! The body wear is also a favourite of mine as well as the fabric petals that all make up this costume. Tangled Web – Another costume that did a very nice translation of the theme, especially the web cape and bra. While I am not a fan of the pastel feathers used for this particular costume, I do think the overall impact is retained and it does not diminish the design. Will I wear it? Yes! Fontainebleau – One of the sexiest costumes EVER in Bliss, that monokini is not made for all body types or Bliss usual age demographic; I am sensing a youthful injection turning the tide of Bliss rumored more sedate crowd. This backline is my favourite in all of Bliss if only because it offers the masquerader very well decorated bra and belt, one of the better backline options for sure. Overall presentation Finally Bliss costumes do not look like an afterthought to TRIBE, and dare I say they have the more solid and cohesive presentation between the two bands for Carnival 2016.
Stand Out Costumes Goddess – That headpiece, that bling, personal bias ; need I say more. Ashwiyaa– I am in all sorts of love with this costume, the pictures do not do justice to the beautiful feather work or copper beading on the body wear. I think this will look amazing on the road and the lucky ladies who get to wear it. Dolce Vita – Again, if you love feathers you will love this costume for that waterfall backpack and uber sexy body wear. A very pretty costume in the soft feminine body wear details; I am a fan of this young, upcoming designer’s work as he introduces different shapes and interesting elements to each costume Will I wear it? Yes! Bellezza – The body wear is the first selling point of this costume for me, I really like that it looks like what we have known from Sandra Hordatt over the years, she has definitely gotten her mojo back! It is a pretty costume, like the name, and I would wear it in a heartbeat. Feathers! Hassun – While this costume has LOTS of familiar elements, it is actually one that I would choose to wear personally as it ticks all the boxes; big, loaded with feathers, bright and has impact. Overall presentation Fantasy does what Fantasy does well, they bring the bling and they bring the feathers, LOTS of feathers. If you are the masquerader who is drawn to over the top costumes with a WOW factor here is your band. I would say that some of the colour combinations needed more variation, and once they have production quality under control these costumes will look amazing on the road.
Stand Out Costumes Bohemian Rhapsody – For Carnival 2016 it is all about headpieces and this one slays. I also really like that the body wear has no bling but it stands out for bringing the boho vibe alive with a more organic look featuring a funky print and wooden beads. Hot stuff – I appreciate that the designers tried something different, like it or not, you notice this costume. Afrodisiac – Ok it might be a little Halloween costume campy however, how could you have a disco throwback theme without the bell bottoms and afros? It would be cool if the afro wigs were included too. Will I wear it? Yes! Village People – because I dig Y.M.C.A. and the Indian was my fave. Overall presentation I will admit that some of these costumes left me scratching my head, but I actually think the generic feathered costumes look more out of place in this theme than the funky walks on the wild side.
Stand Out Costumes Jewel Eleganza – it’s NAKED, standout because of that bodywear. Wow. I also do like the headpiece, just wish it was bigger. Green Opal– Quite possibly the most lavish costume choice in Entice. I love the colours used, as well as the feather work on the headpiece, my one critique would be that the body wear is a tad standard for this designer; I would have liked to see a different style especially on the bra. Will I wear it? Yes! Sweet Nectar – I like the colour combination and headpiece of this costume. Overall presentation Not quite sure where Entice fits into the general landscape of Carnival yet or how much of their own identity they want to forge away from their sister band Fantasy, but the costumes while pretty do seem like Fantasy “lite”; not quite so lavish.
Stand Out Costumes Ice breakers – Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways: 1. The colours,can you imagine that neon plus sunlight ? Road impact! 2. The body wear. Designer Marie Collette is showing off her skills and no, this does not look like beach wear and feathers. A whole lot of time was spent on properly decorating that body wear and we can tell. 3. The feather work on both frontline and backline. LOVE, the placement, love how it falls, love the lightness and softness of it. Yummy. 4. One of the most unique costumes of Carnival 2016, can’t say we have seen anything like it yet.
Jaw Breaker – Again, another costume I love because of feather work, colour combination and body wear (see the wining formula here?).
Will I wear it? Yes! Ice Breakrers, yessssssssssssssssss! Overall presentation A very solid offering from YUMA. Masqueraders are presented with pretty though somewhat generic frontlines. The designers have made use of less appearing to be more as the frontline costumes are not sprouting feathers everywhere, just very well done feather work that gives the illusion of indulgence. This is also one of the best collection of backline costumes I have seen in any presentation so far, backlines are spoiled for choice. However the males are uncharacteristically bland and basic for YUMA.
Stand Out Costumes Let me get back to you on this one. Will I wear it? Honestly, NO. Overall presentation I am a bit lost and confused as to the direction Passion is going with such a strong theme. Admittedly I was pretty excited to see costumes then it just turned into a disaster of overly busy costumes with poor feather work and inelegant bodywear design. A revamp might be in order to save this presentation.
* Regrettably we do not have photos for Island People as TCD did not cover the launch . Stand Out Costumes All male costumes, even though some I may not exactly like myself, I do think it was a good job put forth by Island People for giving the male costumes some actual thought. Will I wear it? Yes! Guardian of Love, because I like the bra, I like that it is not a cacophony of colours thrown together and that the costume design flows nicely. Overall presentation I am surprised at only 10 sections from Island People, though I think that this is one of their better presentations in recent years especially for the males. As usual some of the costumes need editing for my personal tastes, too much of everything in one costume isn’t necessarily better. I am sure they know their market, however, and what appeals to their masqueraders, therefore whatever works to keep their customers happy.