In the heart of the Caribbean lies Trinidad and Tobago, a nation known for its vibrant culture, lively festivals, and rich traditions. Among these, the Trinidad and Tobago carnival stands out as the largest and most exuberant celebration in the region. The carnival is a magnet for the diaspora, drawing people from all over the world back to their roots for this spectacular event. At the center of this magnetic ritual is the art of costuming, where revelers, known as masqueraders, don elaborate and breathtaking carnival costumes that capture the essence of the festivities.
The Lost Tribe Carnival Troupe: Redefining Tradition
Among the many carnival bands that grace the streets of Port of Spain on the exhilarating carnival Tuesday, one stands out for its innovation and departure from the traditional feathered and headdress bikini mas. The Lost Tribe carnival troupe, a relatively young band that took to the road seven years ago, has been rewriting the narrative of carnival costumes, creating unique and theatrical ensembles that leave spectators in awe.
The Theme of “202We” and the Wish Section
In the year 2023, the Lost Tribe embarked on their carnival journey with an overarching theme of “202We.” This theme symbolized renewal, washing, and rebirth, represented by the color blue. The Wish section, designed by the talented Naas Mohammed, took center stage as the band led the procession. Revelers donned mesmerizing painter’s-tape blue iridescent “road gowns” paired with beaded baby blue bikini bottoms and tropical-print head wraps. The captivating ensemble was completed with four-foot-tall green bamboo-like poles adorned with coordinating printed fabric, evoking a sense of freedom and movement as they danced to the sweet rhythms of soca and calypso.
The Washing Section: A Glimpse of Wakandan Royalty
Another striking section in the Lost Tribe’s procession was The Washing, an artistic marvel designed by Peter Elias and Jeneile McCarthy. Masqueraders in this section twirled gracefully in azure and teal tie-dyed capes, resembling regal Wakandan attire. The crowns they wore took the form of elegant seaweed masses, adding an ethereal touch to their appearance. As the band paraded around Queen’s Park Savannah, the streets reverberated with the uplifting sounds of “Come Home,” a song by Nailah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous.
The Power Section: Unlikely Warriors
As the carnival spirit pulsated through Trinidad and Tobago, the Lost Tribe’s Power section showcased an impressive collaboration between veteran costume builders Solange Govia and Richard Dookhdeen. The female ensemble featured a three-piece garment reminiscent of a spectacular flamenco dress, blending crimson red with aquamarine hues to conjure images of a warm Caribbean sunset. The male costumes channeled the strength of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, featuring asymmetrical beaded wings that added a touch of mystique to these masqueraders’ appearance.
A Creative Triumph Amidst Uncertainty
The road to creating the mesmerizing carnival costumes of the Lost Tribe was not without its challenges. In 2021, when the designs for the 2023 carnival were conceptualized, the world was still grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Uncertainty loomed large, and the Trinidadian government’s strict measures made planning for the carnival a daunting task. However, the visionary behind the Lost Tribe, Valmiki Maharaj, pressed forward, inspiring his team of designers to create a masterpiece that would resonate with the revelers’ spirits.
The Lost Tribe’s Distinct Theatricality and Flattering Designs
The costumes of the Lost Tribe stand out for their distinct theatricality and flattering aesthetics. Departing from the traditional two-piece or one-piece bikini costumes, these ensembles demand more fabric, striking a delicate balance between staying cool in the sun and exuding an air of sophistication and artistry. Maharaj’s vision for his troupe was to break free from convention, allowing his designers the freedom to explore abstract and imaginative designs that would set them apart from the rest.
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