PETER ELIAS and Calvin French launch their section in Tribe’s 2006 Carnival band “What Lies Beneath.” The section “Mermaids” caters to a long following of supporters. Peter, well established in the fashion industry and also considered a queen-maker, has been designing mas for five years. He has collaborated with world-famous fashion photographer French, who has also dabbled in various Carnival productions. In 2005 he produced a Queen of the bands called “Madame Can-Can” and in 2004 his King presentation was “Sex, Lies and Fire”. They have synergised their energies to create what they describe as “Fashion meets Carnival”.
Peter said he was most proud of combining the element of costuming with the wearability of the presentation. “Carnival has become almost generic in that many costumes look almost the same. We are depicting ‘Mermaids’ and wanted a costume that looked like a mermaid and at the same time was easy to wear.” Calvin added: “I am not a fan of the two-piece with beads. Darling, it’s glamour and elegance! The people, when they are in these costumes they will be parading on the streets of Port-of-Spain and looking fabulous and they will be wearing cloth and lots of accessories, not a silly bra with beads on it.” A careful study of the components of the presentation tells all about the duo’s effort to details. The base of the costume is silk georgette which is hand-dyed in a swirl of vibrant colours, depicting the sea in shades of indigo blue, turquoise and emerald green. Onto this silk, iridescent piats (coin-sized sequins) are carefully embroidered creating the scales typical of a mermaid and at the same time the shimmer seen often at the sea.
Interestingly, Peter pointed out that the top of the costume is not a bra top and that the masquerader gets both a bra and also a top that is worn over the bra. He jokingly questioned the hygiene aspect of playing mas for two days in the same decorated bra top. Expounding on his presentation, Peter said, “the base panels are also unique in the one-size-fits-all costume, where the masquerader uses the ties to connect these panels. “Both the top and base panels are cut unevenly to create the effect of being torn by the sea and also resembles the way seaweed is shaped. “Accessories for the hands and feet are actual seashells knotted together with the piats on silk cord creating an authentic effect of what really lies beneath the sea. Hoop earrings are made of the iridescent piats. The headpiece and hand fan, both hand-painted to complement the tones of the entire costume, imitate a sea fan closely and at the same time are very light and comfortable to the wearer.”
But it doesn’t stop there according to Peter: “Each female masquerader also has hand-dyed silk fabric panels that can easily be attached to both the front and back base panels creating a more elegant effect that truly resembles the sea.” The male element echoes the old fable of Neptune the Great Warrior of the Sea. To create the Gladiator effect, matt silver and matt gold metallic piats were used intending to create armour-like components. Even though men are usually ignored in costuming, Peter said that that effort was given to the components of the male costume with the intention of the masquerader wearing them comfortably and enjoying them.
“A cross-shield for the chest held by gold chain at the back, a waistband, ankle bands, wrist and armbands, a headband and most importantly a trident, will make a realistic depiction of the theme,” he said. Asked about working together on the section, Peter said “I’ve known Frenchie for over 20 years. He’s a true friend. I respect his love for the art form and passion for excellence.” French in turn described Peter as “a man of style. He creates beauty. More importantly he is a man of his word.”