Flamboyan has released a few mock-ups for the Trinidad section of their Notting Hill Carnival 2016 collection, and it is looking promising.
An occasion to look back at the history and quirk of these colourful characters.

Fancy Sailor

Flamboyan mock-up for NHC 2016 - Fancy Sailor
Flamboyan mock-up for NHC 2016 – Fancy Sailor

The Fancy Sailor was an off-shoot of the King Sailor. The fancy sailor costume consists of papier-mâché headpieces, decorated and painted to look like birds, animals or plants. The sailor outfit is decorated with ribbons, medals, braiding, swans down and other embellishments to match the headpieces.

One of the most known and beloved of the Traditional Carnival Characters, the Sailor Mas was introduced in the 1880s when British, French and American naval ships came to Trinidad. The costume, which is relatively lightweight and inexpensive when compared to other traditional Carnival costumes, typically consists of a beret with the name of the ship on the rim of the beret, a tight-fitting short sleeve bow-necked striped jersey, bell-bottomed Melton pants, and black or white shoes.

Clown

Flamboyan - Clown
Flamboyan mock-up for NHC 2016 – Clown

Traditionally clowns were considered “fools” and carried all kind of antics to entertain and interest a crowd. These clowns were dressed in baggy clothing with big red noses, wild hair, big shoes and often, white faces.

Closely following the traditional clowns would be your Fancy Clowns who are connected with carnival with their own dances and usually a major player in a Fancy Sailor band. These clowns show the beauty of the design of many of the original or old time masqueraders.

Midnight Robber

Flamboyan - Midnight robber
Flamboyan mock-up for NHC 2016 -Midnight robber

One of the most beloved and well-known of the traditional carnival characters line-up, the Midnight Robber graces stages and audiences with his colourful exaggerated costumes, based on the American Wild West, inclusive of an oversize cowboy hat with fringed brim. The hat’s crown comes in different shapes and colours, such as a, coffin. The Robber usually has a flowing cape adorned with symbols of death, a black satin shirt, black pantaloons, and black shoes/boots. However, modern interpretations can see the Robber in a variety of colours outside of the traditional black.

His unique speeches, called “Robber Talk”, are haughty invocations with origins from a variety of sources, including the Bible and other pieces of classical literature, like Shakespeare. The Robber is also known for his trademark whistle that he blows before he addresses his audience. Often the Robber will have a prop gun, sword or dagger and a wooden money box in the shape of a coffin with which he will “threaten” his audience.

Flamboyan costume reveal is taking place on June 18th 2016.
You can also visit the mas camp to view the mock-up, see the progress and meet the team.

Mas camp opening hours
Monday to Friday 11am to 0pm

1 Fernhead Road
Maida Hill Place
London
W9 3EU

Sources and further reading:
Trinidad & Tobago traditional characters – tntisland.com
Traditional Characters – the National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago
Pictures courtesy of Flamboyan Facebook page.

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