Wed | Feb 1, 2023

Carnival costume designers buzzing about 2023 season

Published:Friday | November 25, 2022 | 12:09 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
‘Honey Dew’ and ‘Icy’ designer Jessica Campbell poses with her models during the Xodus band launch.
‘Honey Dew’ and ‘Icy’ designer Jessica Campbell poses with her models during the Xodus band launch.
Local designer Annalisa Guthrie is  back for another carnival season and debuted her Red Whine costume at the recent Xodus launch..
Local designer Annalisa Guthrie is back for another carnival season and debuted her Red Whine costume at the recent Xodus launch..
Sherice Dixon and model Chelsie Gregory in ‘Skittles’.
Sherice Dixon and model Chelsie Gregory in ‘Skittles’.
Guthrie’s ‘Red Whine’ notably has no feathers on the backpack.
Guthrie’s ‘Red Whine’ notably has no feathers on the backpack.
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Xodus Carnival’s Sweet Treats showroom is slated to open its doors this weekend, but already hopeful revellers have been having a sugar rush over the various designs modelled at the recent band launch.

More than 10 designers are contributing to the sexy showcase for the 2023 carnival season, and Jamaica is home to several of them, including Jessica Campbell, a trailblazer widely known for ‘Khaleesi’. The Mother of Dragons design for the band’s previous ‘Enchanted’ theme reportedly sold out in the blink of an eye, and now Campbell is back with two new designs.

In contemplating a design that could match this season’s Sweet Treats theme, Campbell designed ‘Icy’ and ‘Honey Dew’, both of which have been well-received. Speaking with Living, she said both costumes play on ingredients.

“The design inspiration for my sections were pretty easy, ‘Icy’ was playing on the crystal elements of ‘icy mints’, and when it comes on to treats, I’m not a lover of sweet things. I’m not a sugar person; honey is my go-to. So, I used honeycomb shapes and the colour yellow because I wanted to make sure I had something bright and energetic that would get the carnivals lovers buzzing,” Campbell said.

She is eager to start assembling costumes, noting that she partnered with Chris Jackson on the production house dubbed Fakture (a play on the word manufacture). “I believe I’m prepared operational-wise, having this partnership, and we do production locally in an effort to build the industry in Jamaica,” she shared.

Another busy bee, who knows her way around the workshop, Annalisa Guthrie, known by the nickname Anna, is equally eager to get things rolling. Particularly impressed by the partnership between two of Jamaica’s largest bands, Xodus Carnival and Bacchanal Jamaica, her expectations are for a “more of a unified experience” from the leaders to the designers and production team to masqueraders who participate in the upcoming seasons.

“With the team up now, I think there’s an opportunity to show what carnival is essentially about; that’s just pure love on the road,” Guthrie offered.

She has participated as an official designer for four carnival seasons locally and twice for the Cayman Islands. Initially, her ‘Red Whine’ design was named ‘Forbidden Fruit’, which explains the backpack being leaves instead of feathers.

“I wanted the bodywear of the costume to feel like a treasure or treat, a guilty pleasure if you will. However, eventually, [there was] an idea to change the name to ‘Red Whine,’ which I accepted because I think it alluded to the costume’s deep burgundy tone and the fact that it felt exquisite and expensive,” she said.

For her first time as part of a band, Sherice Dixon, whose design, ‘Skittles’, is being marketed by Bacchanal Jamaica, wanted to stand out. Giving a taste of a rainbow with a bright spectrum of colours, the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts graduate nailed it.

Dixon said, “I knew I had to come good and bold. The subtle colours are always pretty on the road but were too common for me; I wanted it to be bright. In the past, I would try to design and sell designs or make wired bras, but that was just me working towards brand awareness.”

The designer holds a fine arts degree in fashion and fashion designing and is elated to use the skills she learnt to contribute to Jamaica’s growing carnival culture. She was absent from the launch but was confident in the team and that her model would represent her well.

“I have worked as part of the production team for carnival in the past, but when the opportunity to present a design was offered, of course, I was not going to say no. I really would love to see at least 50 masqueraders in Skittles. I don’t have any expectations per se; I’m just ready for an amazing season,” Dixon said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com