If anyone has the audacity to say ‘People in England can’t make mas and don’t know about carnival’, I beg you, direct them to the costumes launched this weekend. Because what came out of the London carnival community this weekend can rival any costumes anywhere on this planet. And included in the launches of this weekend was that of Chocolate Nation Mas Band.
Chocolate Nation is the largest band on the road on Carnival Sunday and is typically the last band of the route probably by design. The wildest antics used to happen in this band on the Sunday. Of recent years, Chocolate Nation has hosted various smaller bands on Carnival Monday and their band launch reminds me of the Poison Mas Band launches of years gone by. This band launch is normally well attended and in the past there have been international well known artists performing.
The launch was held at a location called ‘The Venue’. It was fit for purpose with loads of space and a big stage. The very front of the stage was cornered off and the models came down from the stage onto the corned area so that the media and guests of the band can get a closer look and take pictures. Mike Forbes (band leader of Chocolate Nation) hosted the launch. The crowd was warmed up and surprisingly for a band launch, the presentation starts more or less on time.
For this launch, costumes are presented by the following bands; Wassiville, Caribbean Sessions, Infinite Mas, Mas With a Difference, Trinity Design Collective and of course the host band Chocolate Nation.
First up Wassiville! This section was a hit with yellow body wear, yellow, purple and a touch of light green feathers. The headpiece for the back line was big and front line was bigger! I liked the honey comb lazer cut detail throughout this section, particularly on the sleeves of the front line.
Next was Caribbean Sessions with the theme of ‘Paradise’. Their costume was different from last year’s. Rather than blues and greens, there was red and white. And rather than the round striking backpack, there was an extended feathered backpack.
Next up was Infinite Mas with the theme ‘Roses to Desire’ by Ms Desire. I preferred this section to last year in terms of the colours, gem work and backpack. I like the halter neck top of the front line and the coloured beads of red, yellow, purple and orange on the edge of the front line and back line tops. A nice touch.
Trinity Design Collective came next with their theme ‘I AM’. This started off with a dance routine as an introduction to the costumes. The jewels on the body wear were nice on the iridescent bikinis and I also loved the crown of the front line. The signature styling of Trinity Design Collective backpack was also very evident. Personally I like colour in my costumes so I wondered what the back packs would look like with brighter coloured feathers rather than the beige.
Flora Nabena’s Mas with a Difference was next with the theme ‘Neon Romance’. Flora knows her art and her audience. Neon is always a favourite and Flora’s attention to detail on her costumes is second to none. I liked the neon coverings on the handles of the back pack. And she is a master of the caged bra. Again her attention to detail is always noteworthy. The neon and black backpack is very striking. I am not sure but it felt like this is one of the biggest back packs Flora has ever created and I liked seeing that. Pairing Flora’s work (front line) with the model Kimhia is for me always a great match and Kimhia shows off Flora’s creations perfectly.
Chocolate Nation’s theme for their costumes was ‘Vida’. This section designed by Lovena was the nice surprise of the night for me. The body pieces were multi-coloured monokinis, corset and caged bras with a touch of bling. These are not costumes for the fainthearted but for those who want to be as sexy as can be and feel like carnival divas at Notting Hill Carnival! The back line worn by Kamika in particular with the monokini and small blue and green collar was a firm favourite with many I spoke to and she worked that costume. However, for me it was the back packs of this section that stole the show. I really liked the vertical extension, block multi-coloured (yellow, green and blue) back pack of the frontline with the long extended feathers of red and pink. It was colourful, bright, fun, moved well, a bit different and reminded me of the spirit of carnival. Combined with the black mesh sleeves and multi-coloured caged bra? Most definitely my favourite of the night.
All in all, a good launch for Chocolate Nation providing costumes for all body types, budgets and preferences. Just thinking all the costumes presented over this weekend? I am smiling. Yeahhh we can do mas too in England. And do it well.
For more information on Chocolate Nation, please visit www.chocolatenationmas.com or Facebook Page Chocolate Nation Mas or instagram. For further information on Wassiville, please visit wassiville on instagram. For further information on Infinite Mas, please visit www.infintemas.com or facebook page Infinite mas. For further information on Caribbean Sessions, please visit www.caribbeansessions.co.uk or caribbeansessions on instagram and twitter. For further information on Trinity Design Collective, please visit, trinitydesigncollective.co.uk or Facebookpage Trinity Design Collective. For further information on Mas with a Difference, please visit www.mwdcarnival.com or Mas with a difference on Facebook and mwdcarnival on instagram.
For more images, please visit Trinis in London, UK Soca Scene and VKams photography. For video footage, please visit Ilovecarnivall Fb page. All images were taken by Ilovecarnivall with the exception of the Caribbean Sessions group shot.