Saturday, July 28, 2012

Of Beasts,Butterflies and the Bacchanal of online shopping

I guess if you have any interest in Carnival (and its associated Bacchanal), you would have had to be living under a rock if buy now you have not heard the drama surrounding the design methodology of Tribe's artwork for their bands this year. Long story short, some shrewd detective (presumably a graphic artist) discovered that Tribe had bought and used artwork from a stock photo site online to use as the logos for the band as well as other artwork; including the print on one of the backpacks of a section.  (James Hackett I take a borrows eh).

I have seen the ongoing drama on Facebook in regard to the morality behind Tribe's actions and have also noted an abundance of asinine remarks. I was not going and say anything eh but is long time I eh rant and I figured this was as good a time as any to start. And before allyuh jump on my case, just remember this is my personal blog and I works for no one in any of these industries.  PERSONALLY, when I saw they get make out I had a good laugh about this.  I lie, I had about 10 'cause all those memes that were created by sticking those wings onto all kind of characters was effin' hilarious. Darth Vader being my personal fave. But you know what? Then I moved on. I was extremely surprised when I saw the level of outrage, horror and disgust vented at Tribe by doing what really and truly many ad agencies do on a daily basis for their clients.  Captain Obvious could tell you, that's why these sites exist, to download a picture or graphic that you don't have to shoot  or design yourself, you pay a small fee ( cause any number of  people could be using the same exact image for other purposes) and you slap on you own text and off you go. My response was, ok its lazy on their part and what?

Yeah,yeah I've heard all the arguments about Tribe profiting and its a disgrace to our culture blah blah blah. I've even heard those who criticize the practice  then come to the defense of Peter Minshall doing something quite similar in his "Papillion" Queen saying its "symbolically" different. Meh. To all that I say, who allyuh really thought you were dealing with and why allyuh fooling yourselves to believing otherwise? Tribe not here to make money? I am pretty sure when Tribe started their section and ultimately their own band they did not say to themselves "We need to be true representatives of Trinidad culture." Tribe was started as, and still is, a bikini,beads and feathers band who produces one of the biggest moving fetes on the road. They compete in no road competitions, they do not even require you to stay in your section. A significant number of their masqueraders never leave home with the full costume that they paid for because all they concerned about is the id band on their hand that allows them to drink freely. Why is everyone so shocked that they could possibly do something like this especially when they have been criticized year after year by so many calling them "unoriginal" and typical "bikini mas". Their market is commercial and hence their production is commercial.

From a strictly business standpoint, if I hire an ad agency or maybe use and in-house graphic artist and I am given the option to either use a stock image that I can buy for $50 usd now or have my people labour over creating original art which may take weeks and cost 10 times more; What am I going to pick? Not the cheaper more efficient way? That's assuming that option was even presented.  I would love to know if when Dean was presented with the drafts of these things he specifically said "Aye, did you download those images from a stock site on the internet? ". I wonder how many graphic artists would have even volunteered such info and that was how they came up with the designs. I certainly don't want to hear about artistic integrities because just this week I went to two major printeries to enquire about reproducing a similar themed image based on a hardcopy sample I had in my possession and neither of the companies seemed hesitant about digitizing the sample and duplicating the image outright. As a matter of fact they volunteered to do so. As Saucy rightly said, I wonder who gets the credit for the more literal images like the Monarch costume? God? I may have to take a cut cause one of them costumes looks mighty similar to my tattoo.

 I am certainly not bashing the talent in this country or the quality of our graphic artists. I am just pointing out the commercial aspect of the industries we are speaking about. They are in it to make money at the end of the day. As much as all the  Tribe shareholders may love their mas, if Tribe was not a profit they would not still be producing a band. And when you in business you cut expenses, this is why their costumes are produced in China. Did we all not know this? Why would you think that a band who makes bikini costumes in China would decide to bear the full responsibility of enriching the creativity of traditional carnival? I dunno bout you but I never believed that to be Tribe's bag. And I certainly don't fault them for making their business as profitable as it is. 'Cause no matter how much ppl criticise their costumes, their originality or their service they still sell off. I wish I had a business model so!

It should be well known by now that although I usually play in Tribe myself, I have never been one to let them slide when they do shit. More often than not,I'm calling them out on it. In this case , it was more amusing to me than anything else. And the whole argument is really just based on one section. Not really a stretch when you take a butterfly logo and place it on a butterfly costume. Seems like good branding to me. They now have a walking logo of their band. I wonder if the images were just used for artwork and not replicated on the costume wings if it would be such a heated topic. All I really care about is that the product they advertise is what I receive. Maybe I am just a bit more realistic about what I am buying into with Tribe. I don't expect them to be the saviour of Carnival.

To those who cry about the death of an art form. I would agree, to an extent, that the commercial nature of carnival is overshadowing the creative aspect of the culture. Don't blame Tribe though. Before Tribe it had Poison yuh know. Blame governments present and past who have not invested in our culture and in making factories and downstream industries where they can have the facilities to produce the costumes locally. Blame those who don't pass on their creative knowledge to others and blame YOURSELVES as the ones who don't care to learn about the traditions and techniques that go into mas. The same people who complaining going and jump up in any number of choice BBF bands. And I not just talking about costumes because I am always hard pressed to find a Midnight Robber on the streets Monday and Tuesday. It have some mad people in government talking about privatizing carnival to entities that are based in the U.S. If our own government don't care about keeping our culture Trini why you expect Tribe to shoulder that burden?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bliss 2K13: Savage Beauty sneak peak

Well I am sure we were all delighted to get a sneak peak from Bliss for their presentation Savage Beauty. I must say they are off to a great start. This costume, Lionfish is awesome. The color combo is one we very rarely see but it seems very well put together. The effect that those beads are giving on the bra (that we have arguably seen on some other bands' costumes) is fierce. I'm loving how the wings are cut, I think i prefer this styling to the butterfly wings in Tribe. Maybe its just cause I'm a water sign I like the more nautical spin on things.  I am hearing that there is even more to look forward to in Bliss this year. Kudos to Bliss for hearing their masqueraders demands for fabulous costumes as is  customary in Tribe. They seem to also be really making the effort to market Bliss as more than just the 'old people Tribe' or the 'wannabe Tribe' as there is going to be an influx of new groups like the Punchy Punch section which is sure to breathe new life into the band. Can't wait for the rest of these costumes to buss.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tribe 2k13:Butterflies,Beasts and Bacchanal Review

Please forgive my absence. My time is not my own! But you know it would take a big launch like Tribe to bring me out of my hole and I definitely use their launch as a marker for the start of the band launch season (despite all those who tried to get the jump on them).

Ok, so in terms of the party, I can't recall when I last really enjoyed myself at a Tribe launch. This year's event was on the right track but of  course the vibe was completely shot when that genius decided to fall off the stage. The stage show itself was difficult to see if you were to the side of the stage because the giant doors blocked the screen which flashed the names of the sections. The screens provided to view the show from the sides showed the costumes but we could not read the names. It still irritates me greatly that Tribe still continues to do the show to a backing of techno pop music instead of soca music. It clearly looks odd when the girls try to wine to techno. There has also been a recent trend of the male models taking center stage and trying to outdo the previous male model by displaying their wining skills. Ok, seriously, I don't want to see you jook in your spandex pants. It disgusts me that they have such gorgeous individual costumes and instead of 'playing a has' and portraying the costume for what it is, they want to gyrate. Boo!

Right-O costume time!Overall Tribe came out for maximum impact (dun out) with an impressive display with both male and females sporting wings. All back line versions also have wing options which is impressive.


Admiral definitely started the show with a bang and gave the aprons a good idea of what to expect from  Tribe. The  monokini is heavily worked with diamante gems and i imagine it has a bit of weight to it.   I love the color combo on the wings and the fact that the body wear is all white and the color is brought in by the wings and head piece. I did notice that the FL monokini bra did not fit the model very well and on closer inspection we can see its a wire bra combined with a triangle top.A good idea in general but the triangle part may be too narrow to cover the areolas of some more bountiful breasted ladies. The male costume is one of my favorite as well. The textured scales on the body armor is very manly and balances the more feminine back pack.


The varying shades of greens and teals are well put together in this costume. I like the fabric details seen on the bra, waistband and foot pieces. The waist band itself is barely there. I did not like the wire bra on the individual. I would be very interested to see what he back line version of this costume looks like.


My first impression of this costume was "wow" because I honed in on the body wear. I absolutely love the body wear for the FL. The body wear is in the only style that I think makes sense for a wire bra, still sexy but providing adequate nipple coverage. Love the bejeweled collar connecting to the bottom piece. The eye pattern on the wings are a true representation of the butterfly that this was styled after. Shortly thereafter I became rather confused by the mod podge of different colored feathers in the backpack. None more so that the white feathers with blue or yellow dipped edges. I really don't understand where that blue come out from and I think it throws off this other wise beautiful costume . I would try it with a deep purple if they were looking for some contrast. The back line by comparison looks more put together without the blue feathers albeit it has a standard back line design. 


First impression was that this backpack is fantastic.Love the tribal looking print on the wings and the richness of the red feathers with the black highlights. The costume itself does very little for me. It appears there is some pattern on the bikini material but at the end of the day it is essentially a gold lame bikini with no decoration. I think with the combination of the chains (which notoriously don't take weather well) it cheapens the whole costume. I actually like the neckpiece and I think the chains (if you insist) could do with some bigger gems. I have a feeling the chains may look better in person as you can barely see the smaller gems in pics . I don't know what to say about that waistband, I reserve comment for after viewing but I do think it disappears completely in that odd boy short. This costume looks very easy to bootleg.


I really like the color combo although its hard to ignore the similarity to IROQUOIS. Lets call it Butterfly Iroquois. Still a beautiful costume . I dunno if it is the Fl top was too big for the model properly or if  the style makes it fit that way but it is definitely not for everybody, especially those with bigger boobs.It just does not seem to have much support and there may be some peekaboo action in the middle. I do not like that the bras for both FL and back line are not decorated. I think the collar needs and extra string or two of beads to fill it out a bit. The red gems hanging from the middle of the collar and the waistband seem a bit random. This still made it into my upper rankings as it is still striking. 


This costume generated a collective gasp when I first saw it. Absolutely gorgeous.Very,very,very well designed. Love the color combo, love the wings, love the tassels,love the decorated bra. Ten out of ten.


First off, pics of this costume do not do it justice. I think the impact of the colors is much more striking when viewed in real and its very hard to see the detail in the working of the bra which is a trademark of this designer. It is also difficult to see that a patterned fabric is used as the base. When I saw this on stage I was excited by the way the light reflected off of it. Well don't even get me started on how ultra sexy this FL body wear is.  Mampees need not apply so I guess I have real work to do. You have to be on point to pull this off with any dignity! Definitely another winner and I can't wait to see it up close.


Another well designed costume .Great color combo and well detailed body wear. Given that we have not seen all the back lines, I think this one still needs mention for a design that is just as well details and complements the frontline nicely. Its a bit reminiscent of a Pleasures costume from way back when but  its definitely bang for your buck.


I really like the backpack and all the accessories on this costume. I am not too thrilled about the body wear. Its nice that the bra is fully sequined but I don't think that's an excuse to use less gems on the bra. The two tone bikini is different and its growing on me but the waistband is so scanty that it just looks bare. The neck piece seems nice but I am a bit concerned about the metal heating up in the sun and becoming hot to the touch. I'm going to reserve comment for when I see this up close as well. Overall still a nice costume.


This is one of the more literal butterfly interpretations with an exact replica of the monarch butterfly wings. It makes quite a dramatic statement although it looks a bit more commercial.  I would have liked to see a bit more orange and black i the headpiece but it still works well. I  really like the body wear of the Fl and would really like to see what the back line version looks like. It is very similar to the Mulberry costume of Tribe past but that was a winner too so I'll let that slide. I must say, I did not like the male version of this costume as I thought it looked very crafty. Compared to the others it looks very unfinished.


I was so excited when I heard this designer had more than one design in the band and she definitely did not disappoint. I love the contrast of the yellow and teal. Love the gradiated beads. I hated the ruffle in Bliss' Capri as I thought it looked too much like a regular bikini, but this version is executed much better. It should be noted that unlike her personal section, this costume has very little difference between the Fl and back line body wear. Another one of my faves.


Steups. I really cannot understand how after the stellar costumes we have seen from this designer the past few years how we end up with this. I am so disappointed.  I have no issue with the use of one color, after all Minshall's Hallelujah was all white fabric until the final where it was potrayed with a  burst of color. I really am not a fan of that accordion material. What distresses me the most  is the body wear which just seems cheap and completely generic. Oh look more chains, a bit again and it could be a silver (cheaper) version of Crimson Sphinx. It looks almost like a belly dancer costume with coins.It did not escape me that the waistband looks very much like Desert Rose left overs. Not feeling it at all!


This costume ais another that generated a gasp when I first saw it. I absolutely love how the plunge bra is decorated in the FL. The colors just flow so well together and that little touch of green makes it all the more interesting. The back line is a bit more standard Tribe fare but well worked up.


So I have been told that the black monokini version and the dress version on either side of the above pic are taken from the designer's fashion line. For this reason I will leave it alone and say they are lovely because they would not pass as a carnival costume but would work at a carnival beach party or daytime all inclusive. I really like the pattern on the wings and the print on the bikini bottom of the more standard costume design. I am really not understanding what is up with the wire bra for this FL. I really don't want to feel that those are them brazilian string earrings that are turned upside down and used as nipple covers. However thats what it looks like.  I think it would be a good idea to tweak that a bit and then i can say I really like it.

Ok so overall a good mix of new and old color combos and designs. I really like that all the costumes have an impact especially with the wings. It would be an amazing sight to see on Carnival Tuesday if most people opted for wings. I am very interested to see how pricing goes. There may be a bit of a logistical problem on the road with all those wings. To this day my parents, who played in Minshall's Papillion (the first big butterfly band) still speak of how beautiful the costumes were but how inconvenient it was when trying to interact with people throughout the day. You were always a full butterfly length away. We got a peek at the potential for disaster from the jam session on the stage at the show's finale. However I'm not sure if that was a costume issue or if everyone was just vying for front and center. I just hope that modern technology has improved on both the weight and flexibility of the wings to make it a pleasant experience for winged and winged not alike.

Oh and can I say, fail to Tribe for not giving booklets. I happen to keep every one and use them as reference when writing these reviews and also like to keep them as souvenirs of all my years of has playing. That 'desktop discussion' whatever like a big party invi does not have the names of the costumes. I hope is just cause pics of Anya's costume seem to be missing that it has not been printed yet, but after the fact I dunno if it even makes sense.