Within a few minutes of meeting Valmiki Maharaj, you get it. ‘It’ being why he’s fully invested in Carnival and aligned with two of the industry’s most influential mas camps – TRIBE and BLISS. His spectacular creations (including this year’s Mohican and What Lies Beneath) are a true reflection of his larger than life personality while his easy-going nature mirrors the free-spiritedness of the season. In the middle of his hectic schedule, the young designer took the time to sit down with F1RST to talk about trends, Monday-wear, and share a few tips with masqueraders preparing to hit the road on March 3 and 4. Here are Val’s thoughts on…

What’s Trending

Not that it’s new but I think the biggest trend we’ll see on the road Carnival Monday is everyone in a bathing suit. On Tuesday, there’ll be a lot of women doing their hair to play mas because the truth is hair is the new makeup. Girls are now treating Carnival like their wedding day and doing the entire package. That way they can roll and drop on the ground and get back up and still look fresh! Finally, I think the ombre hairpieces in different colors might be a revival of the colored braids from about ten years ago. I don’t know if it’s popular enough for us to see fully colored heads of hair on the road but we have a few people we’re working with who I know brought in weaves in the colors of our sections and I think people may be ready to do little wisps here and there.

The evolution of Monday Wear

Over the years people began to realize that the Monday mas experience and the Tuesday mas experience are two very different things and they started to celebrate that. So it boils down to a combination of wanting two experiences while still looking glamorous on Monday without having to worry about feathers and everything else. At the end of the day we spend a lot of money, time and energy for Carnival – it is the pinnacle and the exodus at the end of everything else – so why limit what you could do?

Masqueraders’ Desire for Individuality

We live in an age of customization so you’ll find that even after people purchase their costume they’re now willing to spend $1,000 on Monday wear or even spend extra to make their Tuesday wear more fabulous. On Tuesday people want to look great but also be a part of something bigger, on Monday they are not trying to be wearing the same thing as anybody else. Even Monday wear designers who put out lines say people come to them and ask to customize their looks. People always try to be a little bit different – it could be the yearning to play individual mas, to stand out on the road, to be somebody else for a day.

Putting Together a Monday Look

Comfort: Monday mas is all about comfort. It’s about the experience more than the show. I actually find that you get better pictures from Monday than you get on Tuesday because there are more action shots as people are more willing to jump up because they aren’t studying their feathers or anything else.

Think outside your section: Don’t trap yourself into the colors of your section. If for instance you couldn’t decide between two sections one in blue and the other in purple, if your costume is purple, play Monday in blue.

Avoid imitations: Don’t try to make a replica of your costume or something to match it because 99.9% of the time people end up failing miserably. Do your own thing and as far as possible make your Monday look a costume – you will always need a little color, a little drama and big makeup!

Best Stores for DIY Projects

If you have an eye you can find things anywhere. For instance, I found the fabric I used for Mohican at Jimmy Aboud. So go to Samaroo’s, go to Jimmy Aboud, go to Wonderful World, go to jewellery stores and you could buy things and rip them apart and stick them back together however you want them. That is of course if you have time. The easiest thing to do though is to go to Peter Elias. From what I’ve seen so far in the past, and always around Carnival time, he goes out of his way to bring in pieces that match and all together they make masqueraders look well put together.

Masqueraders Making Their Own Rules

I can’t speak for other designers but when I design, I design for masqueraders to embellish. As I said before, we live in an age of customization but the irony is that we also live in the age of mass production so it’s a give and take. However I design a backline with standard customization points – I have the bra, a big headpiece, a large headpiece, collar etc so even if you’re not creative, you could tailor your costume to suit your taste because you have a base from within the offerings of the band. Then of course you have the option to upgrade to frontline.

Thanks for taking the time to talk shop with us Val, the revelers preparing for Carnival 2014 appreciate your insight!

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