Designers bring 'The World in One Band' to life at Xodus launch
Carnival in Jamaica took on a global flare last Saturday for the launch of Xodus' 'Cosmopolitan - The World in One Band'.
This year the designers were tasked with producing costumes that meet and exceed the expectations of the increasingly demanding masquerader.
The works of Caribbean and US-based designers slated to hit 'de road' in April 2019 took center stage as models donned looks inspired by nations and cities around the world in a total of 16 sections.
Among the returning designers are Jin Forde of J. Angelique Designs, who last year blew away the audience at the Xodus League of Angels launch, by deviating from the norm and introducing three black leatherette pieces inspired by the dance hall culture for her section- Noir 'Angel of the Night'. This year, the Barbadian-Trinidadian designer says it was important to link the design to culture.
"The costume design had to be significant, especially when the team announced that the theme was based on world cultures, and being able to bring 'Ethiopia' to life meant creating a relationship between Jamaica and my section," Forde told The Gleaner.
She added, "The popularity of ethnic wear, the use of tribal cloths and Rastafarianism in Ethiopia are translated in Jamaican culture, and that's the whole inspiration behind the costume."
The line-up of exclusive one-of-a-kind creations opened with Bangkok, designed by David Dewer from Trinidad and Tobago, who is responsible for putting together three sections. The costume was probably one of the most attractive, taking the vibrant characteristics of Thailand's capital city with its signature headpiece mimicking its ornate shrines.
Dewer laid to rest the misconception that a large headpiece cannot be a part of a carnival design. The headpiece, however, is optional.
Meanwhile, Jamaica's Simone Michelle owner of miSim Clothing, says she prefers to use small headpieces to match her costumes. She has designed Cairo, marketed by Drifters Jamaica, which does not feature a front line or back line, but a monokini style.
"The original concept for Cairo was not what was shown on stage. After going through the entire creative thought process, I began to hone in on the design," Michelle said.
She added, "I always try to be practical with my designs, and even though I am not a fan of feathers, it is what people love to see - the practical nature of a monokini and a small headpiece definitely came into play, and the cloth selected was so that women can have all the excitement and look luxurious on the road without all the extra accessories to worry about."
The three-dimensional design of the section named after Italy's capital, Florence (designed by Bonnie Lee), created hysteria - the women shouted for an encore walk from the model who had their male counterparts swooning.
"I did not know if people would like it because, from experience, Carnival chasers love feathers - but I wanted the backpack to who a 3D effect by including a lot of wire work to create the lift that would not only pop, but be lightweight," Lee explained.
Keisha Collette Thomas, another twin-island designer who has been with the Xodus Band from the beginning, says, "It's all about how the designers represent for the theme and themselves." The owner of the Marie Collette brand and creator of the Tokyo section, marks Cosmopolitan as a celebration of five years in the industry and in carnival.
"I have definitely progressed as a designer, and there are different aesthetics that mark the carnival season - for me it has to be bright hence the full neon-green bodysuit and the play on the feather work," Thomas said.
Other cities represented in the band are Nairobi, Madrid, Marrakesh, Mumbai, Manhattan and, of course, Kingston, Jamaica that did not follow the cliched idea of using the national colours, but had the resemblance of the country's national bird. Mexico's costume was titled 'Aztec', and three other sections - 'Bali', 'Fiji' and 'Rio' - introduced as Xodus' premium Cosmopolitan designs branded as 'Envy', completed the presentation.