Saturday, November 05, 2011

K2K ALLIANCE & PARTNERS : The New Cool of the New School

The Yellow Sea.

Not since ‘Tantana’ has high mas and high fashion been merged the way K2K has merged the two with their presentation of ‘The waters seas of consciousness.  With this band as their opening gambit K2K have confidently placed themselves at the very cutting edge of contemporary mas.
In waters the designers Kathy and Karen Norman use the seas as a metaphor of mans consciousness and the evolution that consciousness may take in becoming self aware. Each section is named after a body of water that may have a historical/religious connection to the state of consciousness each section represents.


Unlike the fun bands of today, K2K  make it very clear that  they intend to bring back the old ethos  of story telling through the medium of mas, and reinventing  what they call the ‘ the cinematic  beauty  through choreography  and design’.  Another factor that places K2K at least 3 tiers above the likes of Yuma, tribe and the rest of fabulous fantasy merchants is the fact that they clearly recognise and appreciate the historical significance of the prestigious title ‘Band of the Year’, and boldly state that they intend to win it, a title we all know only the very best of the mas fraternity can claim on the streets of Port of Spain.

Break in tradition:

Unlike the legendary bands of yesteryear, that drew inspiration from epic Hollywood movies, historical events , great civilisations, or the richness of  Trinidad’s own cultural amalgam, K2K has drawn inspiration from some of the most popular and influential designers of fashion, film, and stage today. Looking at the mas of the Norman twins and tracing the possible seas of influence of these creations reveal this pantheon of fashion to us clearly.
Most of the head pieces take the curves and swirls in form, echoing the style of Philip Treacy,  in the sections you can see sprays of Jean Paul Gaultier, waves of Eiko Ishioka and a shimmer of of John Galliano. If there are any influences of any legendary mas designers in this band it is a splash of Peter Minshall in (rage and fury female).


Red sea rage and fury, looks like Eiko Ishioka's
Stargher  King in the movie 'The Cell'.



Looking outside the little box of Trinidad’s modern day carnival for new inspiration is a concept that I have, (as some of my readers say) ‘ranted on’ about for some time now.  It has baffled me over the years as to why none of the multitude of so called designers and bandleaders of the growing number of new bands have never attempted to also draw from the fashion industries extreme designers who’s show’s and avant-garde designs can so easily be transferred to the genre of contemporary mas.

Sea of Galilee.
When the Blog Trinidad’s Carnivals gave me the opportunity to put this question to the Norman twins this as their reply.  

To be honest I am not quite sure. However, if “no one ever challenged the status quo everyone would think that the world was still flat”. Thus, we are trying to challenge the ordinary, think outside the box and offer the masquerader something different. Men like Peter Minshall & Wayne Berkeley have set a very high bar in mas making. They have put our generation in the launch pad and it is up to us to take-off and take mas into another arena. We hope to be those faces to take carnival to a new level by mixing fashion with mas, and expressing mas as a contemporary art form.” 

These ladies are definitely the pioneers of their generation. 

River Jordan.
This is without a doubt is a fashion centric mas, the men’s costumes are tailored in construction, straight lines, buckles and leather straps. The female costumes are powerful and iconic, the artistic eye and abilities of the twins are undeniable, and the costumes are of an extremely high standard, I think this presentation more than that of any of its contemporaries can be called couture mas, that these costumes are well crafted is an understatement.

Saraswati River.
With all the strengths of this debut presentation, from the powerful message of spiritual redemption and self knowledge to its metaphorical aquatic theme, to the decorated body suits and beautifully pleated leggings there is but one chink in this bands proverbial armour.

Looking at the mas I can’t stop thinking designers drew too much from the pools of high fashion.
In their brave rejection of the repetition and mediocrity that is popular 21st century fantasy mas, and producing this fresh, bold, and daring contemporary work, my opinion is that the fashion has overpowered the spirit of the mas, there is rigidity in fashion that is reflected in these costumes, and this rigidity counters the fluidity of both water and consciousness.

It was almost too easy for me to identify the pools of influence, that were used in each section, and while there is nothing wrong in drawing from these pools of influence, drawing a little too much can upset the balance, and the Norman twins  have drawn form some of fashions most iconic images.
While I respect that they are not trying to be anything like the legends that have preceded them I do find that it’s always good to take notes from the greats.

Ncome River.
“... you put just enough for the audience to do the rest of the work, if your too obvious with it you leave them bored...”Peter Minshall on designing the hummingbird. (See Masman)

In 2006 I called Tribe the Leaders of the NewSchool in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival,back then I saw their approach as new and innovative. Today I pass this title to K2K,this band is as fresh as a breeze coming in from the Caribbean Sea, like I said on Face book it’s a shot in the arm that T&T’s Carnival desperately needed. I do hope that this band is seen as a challenge to the rest of the mas fraternity to be brave and challenge the now old tired order that mindless fantasy mas has become.







I truly hope to see K2K on the road for 2012 and many years to come.
If you want to see more of this band  see the website. 


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