Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Carnival Costumes Too Hot To Handle

Published:Monday | January 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMCurtis Campbell
Bonnie Lee's carnival designs from Unleashed Jamaica.
Bonnie Lee's carnival designs from Unleashed Jamaica.
Bonnie Lee's carnival designs from Unleashed Jamaica.

Designer Bonnie Lee was recently the topic of discussion on social media after one of the designs from her 2016 Carnival line, 'The Dragon Legacy', was described as being too skimpy by a controversial blog.

When contacted by The Gleaner, the outspoken designer said her models were fully covered in the right places at the Bacchanal New Year's launch hosted at Mas Camp recently. However, she employed an illusion tactic, using materials which complemented the skin tone, thus giving the impression that the costume was revealing.

Lee, who has since modified the design, says, "What bothers me about people saying it's too revealing is the fact that the design was intended to give an illusion effect. It was an illusion which I thought of and executed it extremely well, which is what I guess the problem is. The panty is fully covered and there are no explicit areas showing. It has a full bottom and my girls went on the stage and danced. They did everything except go on their head top and that shows that the costume is extremely stable. However, just because of the illusion, some people thought that I was going too far. I really wanted it to look like nothing was there... but it really wasn't as bad as people thought and a lot of persons who saw it in reality don't think it is as bad as they thought it was in pictures," she said.


The designer says carnival is a one-day event which is intended to facilitate unity and celebrate freedom among Jamaicans and persons of the diaspora. Therefore, the decision made by some people to view the event in a negative light is self-destructive.

She also pointed out that each line of costume carries variations and may be modified by the designer upon request if the clients are not comfortable.

"Carnival is the one time of the year when uptown, downtown, round town and just about all over the world, come together and let loose and enjoy themselves. Nobody nah watch. Yuh just enjoy yourself. I don't know why some people say it's so revealing because it's the same thing we wear on the beach, just with a little bit of feather and stone. It's not revealing, I've seen people wear way less to the beach and these pool parties," she continued.

"There are also options for people who think that they are revealing. There are one pieces which cover everything. There are t-shirts, there are tights instead of panties. People have options... we can't be repetitive, so we give you different options. Furthermore, everybody wants this Trinidad carnival feel. If you ever look at Trinidad and Brazil carnival costumes, they make you blush. So I don't see why everybody is coming down on Bacchanal so hard, there are options provided by each designer for their lines," she said.

Lee's costumes can be viewed and purchased at She also says her design for 2016 was inspired by the Bacchanal theme, 'The Legacy'.

"When I realised that the theme this year was going to be Legacy, immediately I thought about the dragon and lion, because I am very big on certain types of animals. I started to look at how certain patterns interacted with stones. I can't really say no one thing inspired me this year, because there is always trial and error, you have to put things together and when it doesn't work, you move on to the next," she said.

This year, Bacchanal will also be adding a bit of competition among the costume sections, which will vie for Best Costume Design Section 2016, Bacchanal Monarch 2016 and Spirit of Bacchanal 2016.

"We feel that this will help to present a greater spectacle on the road parade as the costume revellers come together as a cohesive force to showcase their costumes, and want to involve the public as well in making some of the selections," said Michael Ammar, Bacchanal Jamaica director.