By modefor, Jul 16 2018 09:37AM
Back in cold and snowy March this year, I was invited to join the creative team at Sheffield Carnival as part of a group of local artists who would be designing and creating vibrant and larger than life costumes for the long anticipated re launch of Sheffield Carnival. The theme was 'The Rise of the Phoenix' depicting a rebirth of the carnival vibe on our streets, as it rises from the ashes after a 20 year break.
The aim was to bring carnival back to Sheffield big style!
I was thrilled to discover I would be working under the direction of talented designer Clary Salandy, the woman behind the spectacular Notting Hill costume parade and one of the UK's leading designers in Carnival arts.
After meeting Clary, I realised this was going to be a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable experience in this field. I really admired her passion for carnival, the arts, her high standards and expertise. She was very supportive and I had so much to learn from her. It was also a chance to finally put my qualifications in Design and Theatre to good use too. From then on, I embraced every second of Clary's invaluable teaching and carefully observed every aspect of her design process.
During the past few months I've learnt that carnival is so much more than feathers, bikinis and sequins. It's a theatrical, visual and dynamic art, an expression of culture and heritage, that means so much to many people. It brings people together and has a varied and diverse culture input whilst maintaining a sense of community. Not only that it's SO MUCH FUN!
The next three months felt like a chaotic whirlwind of workshops, designing, sketching, creating, painting and making. With only a couple of weeks to go I had the opportunity to visit Clary's Carnival Arts studio in London.
Her bustling three storey studio is full to bursting with a huge collection of larger than life colourful costumes, everywhere you look a feast for the eyes, no nook or cranny left empty, a room jam packed with dazzling colours, shapes, fabrics and dizzying designs. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop and I felt at home.
I spent the day with members of Clary's team and under Clary's guidance I created a prototype for my phoeonix dress design which was going to be worn by ten ladies in a section of the parade in Sheffield.
Back in Sheffield, it was hard to see how it was all going to come together in time, hundreds of costumes, hours and hours of hard work, a great deal of sweat, blood and tears but it did and in spectacular style thanks to the amazing hard working team at Sheffield Carnival.
The final costumes were simply out of this world. Seeing my designs come to life was one of the best feelings ever. Ten sassy women all strutting their stuff wearing my design, as we all danced together without a care in the world. The big parade saw hundreds of people dancing in the street, reflecting Sheffield's diverse range of international culture, all partying together as one big community with great multicultural spirit.
It seems that carnival is well and truly back on the streets of Sheffield and this pheonix bird has well and truly risen.
Have fun this summer peeps and make sure you find time to feel that carnival vibe, believe me it's addictive!
For a BBC story on the carnival go here: