And it has begun. UCOM (United Colours of Mas) is the first band to launch for Notting Hill Carnival Season 2019. From my conversation with Paul O’Donoghue (Head Designer and Band Manager) during the previous week I knew what he had planned for this season. It was going to be all about colour. The costumes would be very similar in design but would be different colours with the exception of ‘Spectrum’ costume which would have a myriad of coloured feathers. In our conversation, he also explained why he launches so early. Not only was it to give his team time to produce the costumes but also time for his masqueraders to be able to budget to pay off the costumes. As he said, ‘My costumes aren’t cheap’ so they are at least six months or so for them to pay the costumes off.
There was a real nice atmosphere backstage, in the hours running up to the presentation of costumes. The last finishing touches of make-up were being put on, models were milling around, laughing joking, and getting ready. The UCOM staff were very helpful, friendly, accommodating and jovial. One or two had me laughing hard. We got a chance to do some close-ups so you could see the stones and details of the costumes.
The launch took place at the Scala at King’s Cross, London,UK. The stage was set up and it was a good space. The crowd came to see the first costumes of the season. There were quite a few people of the various bands of London also in attendance. The Release D Riddim team as well as others were in attendance warming up the crowd.
Under the overarching theme of Kaleidoscope, UCOM as well as Amorous London, Hype Mas and Socaholic ( who will be on the road with UCOM) presented their costumes for 2019.
Fun mas was presented first which was more than just a t-shirt but a costume with colour. I quite liked the colourful body wear.
Amorous Mas produced the ‘Monochrome’. Grey rarely looks this good.
Hype Mas presented ‘Pink Passion’. The colour popped on the catwalk.
Up next was ‘Exotic Purple’ by UCOM/ Lee brought her sparkle to the catwalk as well as the male model.
Then ‘Feeling Blue’ by UCOM. My favourite colour is blue so I would always like this section.
‘Green Peace’ was up next by UCOM.
Socaholic presented ‘Hello Yellow’. This yellow popped on stage and Hollie as per usual killed it. The big hair and smile? Couldn’t go wrong in selling this costume!
‘Orange Bliss’ was presented by UCOM. Delphie did her thing in selling the costume. The other models also worked the catwalk!
‘Red or Dead’ was up next by UCOM. Ok this section I liked as well. There were a bit more feathers. I liked the frontline’s backpack. Rhona, Dujonna and the male model were perfect in showcasing the costumes to full advantage.
Of course the show stoppers were the ‘Spectrum’ costumes modelled by Kenny and Rianna. These were the most expensive and all about colour, with all the colours of the other sections incorporated into the feathers of the costumes. Rianna and Kenny seriously worked those costumes, showing them to full effect. I liked these costumes. A lot.
So when Paul described to me that all the costumes would be very similar, I was expecting regimental army clone business where all the costumes were carbon copies of each other with no deviations. But although all the costumes had the same basic premise, there were differences in cuts, styles to accommodate all body shapes and sizes; bikinis, halter bikini tops, wire bras, monokini, bikini bottoms with tassels. So although, it might be one colour, you can make it your own with choice of style. And they may have seemed to be simple. However the execution of the designs was of a very high detailed standard. I have to say there were really good models at this launch. They did not come to play. The ones I am more familiar with; Rianna, Holly, Lee, Dujonna, Delphie, Kenny and Gem worked the catwalk! And the others who I am not so familiar with also sparkled. There was some new models who made me think ‘Aight Paul, nice nice!’
It can be said Paul O’Donoghue took a risk with this collection; the same costume but all different colours. I’m not sure if he would consider this season his best work. However, it remains to a high standard and all the colours will have impact on the road! And of course, there was ‘Spectrum’ which I really really liked.
Overall, I think the launch was a success. I think Paul achieved what he wanted to and the crowd seemed receptive. There were discussions regarding the colours. I overheard a few discussing the £999.00 and possibly paying an amount every month. On a side note, can I just say that UCOM male models were all kindsa hot? Abs and chocolate all over the place.