United Colours of Mas (UCOM) is unbelieveably consistent. Consistently having one of the best production teams in London UK so that costumes are out in time. Consistently bringing the bling and stand out head pieces. And over the years consistently being one of the top bands that truly considers the male mas player and sees their costumes as equally important as the ladies costumes and not an after thought. Cause believe it or not, there are men out there who do want more from their costumes, costumes maybe with a bit more and who are seriously looking at what they are getting for their money.
The band launch was held at the Scala in London, UK which is fantastic for the drama and theatrics of a band launch. Good stage, good space, ok sound, but lighting is not the absolute best. So unless you’re one of the professional photographers with a really good camera, lens, lighting equipment etc, your images might not be as brilliant as you want it to be. There were many UCOM staff in their high vis fluorescent tees on hand to answer questions and direct you to where you would like to be. UCOM is organized.
This band launch brought out a large enthusiastic crowd of various ages, races and from other carnival bands. And the media. There were quite a few media houses represented. A VIP area was hosted by staff in costume and in keeping with theme. The crowd was initially warmed up by the DJ whose selection I really liked. He dropped some tunes I haven’t heard in a looonngg time and my friend Melissa and I were much appreciative.
It was a bit of a wait for the launch to start but that really is nothing new. In all the band launches I have attended over the years, very few start at the given time. The theme for UCOM’s costumes for Notting Hill Carnival 2018 was Cirque Du Carnival. All in all, there were 10 sections with 29 costumes with three designers.
Renata Gordon designed the section Kurios. I liked theorange blue combo and Hollie rocked the frontline with the circular backpack.
Loic Corvo designed Totem. Different shades of green gems and headpieces has some serious height.
Lead designer Paul O’Donoghue designed all other sections.
Fun Mas called Harlequin boasted the very recognisable checked pattern and the male model Elliot seemed to have a time showing this off.
The section Ka was a firm favourite with the crowd, Yellows, reds, oranges with big headpieces for male and female popped.
Amaluna was striking with the large dark green headpieces and tassled bodypieces.
The section ‘O’ was one of my favourite sections. I liked the frontline worn by Rhona. This was a multicoloured body piece and headpiece interjected with black feathers at the top and falling to the back.
Next up came all white Crystal. One of my favourite headpieces of the night was with the frontline worn by Andrea Cha Cha. I liked the way the headpiece fell on either side of her and frameed her. It complimented and drew the eye to the encrusted bling bling body wear. And Andrea showed it off as only she can.
Section Luzia brought the drama for the guys with the big back pack which combined cloth with feathers. The female frontline back pack also combined cloth with feathers to give the effect of butterfly wings. The leg pieces were different with the placement high in the thigh rather on the lower leg. The inclusion of the circled reflectors on the bodywear will certainly catch the light.
In the Mystere section for me, the male costume outshone the backline. The headpiece and belt were nice.
Then there is the show stopper male costume of Zumanity. When the mic man said ‘Presenting the only costume publically costing £999.00’, and with the build up, I was not really expecting a male costume to come out. You know how it is usually in order of importance; frontline, backline then the male costume. But this costume is no way taking the back seat to anything. This is probably the most bling I have ever seen on a male costume and it is a beautiful piece of art.
Some of the guys I spoke to in the audience said that the shorts were very…. itty bitty shall we say. However I have seen on the road, Paul and his team are able to amend or change some aspects of the costume from what is seen on the catwalk. So presumably you are able to get longer shorts or fuller bikini bottoms for various pieces. From this male Zumanity, you can see that Paul champions males having the opportunity to have costumes every bit as stunning as the female costumes if they so wish. And my gosh did the male model work that costume.
However, Rianna was not to be outdone in the Zumanity female! Oh no. The way she worked that costume, was like her life depended on it. Total and unapologetic SLAYAGE! So these Zumanity costumes will be the first section on the road line up, you will have a champagne reception, gourmet caribbean lunch, dedicated drinks waiter, premium goodie bag and a customised cup.
UCOM brought out that consistency in having costumes that made the audience gasp and be quite appreciative. I was not surprised. However, for me what stood out this year was that Paul O’Donoghue took his designs for the male masquerader up another level. His determination this year was very apparent in showing that men can also have great costumes, equal to that of women.
Paul and his team know their masqueraders and what they want. The UCOM masqueraders know what they will get from their designers. So much so that some were willing to put down a deposit on costumes before the launch and based on sketches alone. If you’re a bit of a wall flower, Paul’s creations are not for you. Step away from the spotlight. You can’t handle it. If you will gasp at prices of costumes or just can’t afford it (there’s no shame in that at all), again step away. There will be other band launches with other costumes, I promise. BUT if you are full of confidence, got the money (or will get the money by any means necessary), ready to shine on the road for Notting Hill Carnival, ready to step in your full diva, Carnival God or Goddess mode, UCOM is your band. But don’t wait too long to make a decision. This band sells out all kinds of quick!
For more information on UCOM, please visit unitedcoloursofmas.com, UnitedcoloursofMas on Facebook, ucomcarnival on instagram. All pics with this article were taken by ilovecarnivall and for video footage of the ucom launch, please visit ilovecarnivall on instagram. For more professional images of the costumes, please visit TrinisinLondon, biggie_wuk and vkamz_fotoz on intagram.