For Trinbagonians, this week started in the best way possible - with carnival Monday and Tuesday celebrations across the islands. In my day, I masqueraded in everything from the now-ubiquitous feathered bikini costumes from those mega-bands to more artistic creations; my tastes run in keeping with the latter, so I was quite pleased to see an increase in the number of intimate, themed productions on the roads for carnival 2014.
One of the more intriguing bands to take flight was Suck It, from the coyly titled group, Cat in Bag Productions. Led by artist Ashraph Ramsaran and comprising a motley group of creatives and carnival enthusiasts, the band presented its DIY take on a traditional carnival character, the Bat. Using all forms of thinly veiled references to social issues, Trinbagonian figures, naughty terminology and the like, Suck It was a statement Mas in jest.
Its best aspect? Band members got deep into the process, decorating and in some cases, constructing their costumes to suit their specific kind of bat. My favourite was the multicoloured, textural bat as embellished by the figurative artist Brianna McCarthy for her older sister, model and jeweler, Jeneile McCarty (top right image).
Clockwise from top right: Images Courtesy Mariel Brown and PleasureBlog.
Speaking of more intimate, artistic creations with a social commentary bent, another band worth mentioning was the Peter Minshall-designed staging of the theatrical production, Miss Miles. Brought to the streets by playright Tony Hall, and placing masqueraders in the guise of the Trinidadian political whistle-blower Ms. Gene Miles, the mas was half street theatre and half street party.
With a dramatically painted ‘penny mask’ serving as an abstraction of the Miles character, the band brought the struggles waged against corruption throughout the life of Ms. Gene Miles, to a wider audience. I, for one, knew very little about the public figure and since I had not seen the play, was very thrilled to learn about her work and her outrageous sense of personal style, which was characterized in the unisex black and polka-dotted garb of the band.
The costumes themselves were constructed with the help of lauded Trinidadian designer, Meiling Esau, who executed the Minshall-designed pieces in a week or so for the limited mas band. According to Esau, “only 50 masks were pressed for a band of 50. [It was all] designed and created by Minsh, so you know, no one is going to part with their masks!” Here’s to hoping someone didn’t turn up for carnival with Miss Miles, and there’s still a prized Minshall mas(k) waiting to be claimed…
Image courtesy Maria Nunes
When MY/CG was first launched, way back in the Caribbean internet hinterlands of 2006, there was, quite literally, no other website that actively talked about the culture, lifestyle, travel, arts or fashion of the region. As time passed by, MY/CG - then called My Caribbean Gateway - slowly came to a halt, and a handful of other sites arose, all with their own approach to reflecting Caribbean life.
Since those early, lonely days, the West Indian webspace has grown, albeit not always in a sustainable or thriving manner. Sites come, and sites go. Sometimes they work, sometimes they do not. One such site that I still miss, is PopStyle JA - a street fashion blog that focused almost exclusively on Jamaican style and fashion design with a sharp, direct approach.
In its wake, KingstonStyle has more than filled the void with a keen sensibility and knack for cataloguing the party culture of Jamaica, and the everyday style of Kingston’s scenesters. Manned by the affable Jamaican photo journalist Marlon Reid, aka Biggy Biggs, KingstonStyle never fails to offer a style pic worth bookmarking.
Case in point? For sometime, I’ve had their shot of reggae legend, Capleton, in his full, militant performance regalia, as my iPhone screensaver. Something about his half-grimace and stance just said, “rastaman nah pose for no style blog!” And yet, there he was…
The site recently expanded with a slew of contributors and a new webstore, stocked with their graphic logo tanks and thong bodysuits; the former, modeled by one of their writers, above, is definitely the kind of thing worth collecting and wearing.
PS - about the writer, Monique - is there anyone else who could possibly make afro puffs look so charming?
NB Image Courtesy Monpatro
I am sitting at my work desk, finishing The Edit for MY/CG and wearing two layers of everything - two sweatshirts, a thick pair of tights under a pair of jeans, two socks… Looking back at this image from our inaugural Grand Cayman issue, taken at the Smith Cove beach right before sunset, a little smile comes to my face and I almost feel the surf between my toes, the warm air on my face and the fragrance of the sea at my nostrils. A welcome feeling to have in the midst of a lingering European winter, I might add.
It also brings to mind the third issue of MY/CG - where should we go? On which island should make our temporary home?
I’ve been thinking of visiting one of the Dutch Caribbean spots as a way to try out the very, very basic Nederlands I’ve been using at our base in Amsterdam, but perhaps I should stick with the Anglophone Caribbean and get familiar with life on Barbados, Dominica or Antigua.
What say you?