Bacchanalia’s band launch for Notting Hill Carnival is always one I look forward to although it could be argued I have played with this band for the last five years so naturally I would. However for me, Bacchanalia always tries to bring something a little different to Notting Hill carnival designs. I do not think Kelly-Ann Rajpaulsingh and Douglas John of Bacchanalia Mas Band disappointed this year.
Bacchanalia Mas band has been on the Notting Hill carnival route for 11 years and is best known for very pretty, detailed, fearless costumes. The head designer Kelly Rajpaulsingh is not afraid to use various fabrics beyond the traditional feathers in her creations and also made her debut at London Fashion week two years ago. Douglas John is very well known in the Trinidad and international mas community and has years of experience, knowledge and skills! His work ethic is second to none. The theme this year’s for costumes was ‘Slither’ based on the positive characteristics of a snake described by Bacchanalia as ‘Intelligence, wisdom, passion and determination. It is elegant in its movement and deadly in its strike.’ I really wondered how Bacchanalia would pull off this theme as in all honesty the positive attributes of a snake does not immediately come to mind.
The launch was a day launch held at what has been called the traditional home of London carnival, the Tabernacle. This is a large space suited for purpose (nice stage, good sound) which gives many good vantage points to see costumes without having to see over heads on tip toes. I could see many die hard fans and friends of the Bacchanalia Mas Band as well as a myriad of the familiar photography teams and some not so familiar.
An hour before the show started, Bacchanalia stuck to theme by presenting a snake charmer with a huge live anaconda to walk amongst the crowd. That animal looked heavy and one or two brave souls carried it about their necks and took pics with it. It kept the theme of ‘Slither’ in mind of the crowd and got them ready for what was to come.
The launch began. First up was the section Venom. This section had gold snake skin mimicking material with red accents and brown and gold feathers and the idea of freedom of movement and varied body types seem to have been thought about. The backlines had very little or no feathers but included striking headdresses, monokini and longsleeved leotard. The frontline modelled by Kimhia Toussiant was striking with the high waisted knckers and wired bra. The backpack is nice with the single place feathers and extra details of transparent black and gold fabric. I especially liked the feathers shooting straight up from the shoulders. This was the only section shown with a male costume.
Next section was Enchantress, dominated by pink, black and gold. The headpieces ranged from face framing pieces to skull caps to high feathered eye catching creations. I liked the frontline with the extra cape.
My favourite section however is Ophis. I love the green and yellow combination. The body wear for this section I feel is the most different. I liked the back line with its short tankini, shoulder pads and very long sleeves. For me the cut of the green sleeves more than other part of the section reminded me of the shape and length of a snake. Loved the green and yellow with the long elongated sleeves. Combine that with the jewelled face piece and large leg pieces, this back line is memorable. The front line costume modelled by Jalicia Nightengale is my favourite of the entire collection. I love the idea of this high slit dress body wear for Notting Hill Carnival! Good coverage whilst still being very sexy and easy to wear. Combine this with the long sleeves, big headpiece and colours? Dramatic and will not be missed on the road!
The finale of this collection for Notting Hill Carnival 2017 was Savage Beauty modelled by Maurisa Coleman. She worked that costume on the catwalk! This costume is meant to catch the eye; colourful, large with several levels of detail and skill. There is the large headpiece with colourful feathers, the monokini wth draped sleeves. Then there is the showstopper, the large cape which cleverly seemed to be made in part out of the shedded multi-colored skin of many snakes and turquoise and yellow feathers. Liked the drama of this costume.
Kelly-Ann and Douglas’ collection for this year definitely stuck to theme. I saw how the snake was incorporated into the costumes. I liked the use of snake skin like fabrics, styles of body wear and varied headpieces, though still having feathers for most costumes which most masqueraders like. The make-up by Kitty Noofah was on point. My favourite costume? Has to be front line Opis. Hands down. Have no doubt that sections will sell out fast!! Nice work Bacchanalia!!
For more information, please visit www.baccmas.com, Bacchanalia Masband on facebook, bacchanalia_uk on instagram, bacchanaliacarnival on twitter. For more images please visit UK Soca Scene or TrinisinLondon