Insane Carnival channels African-themed designs for Antigua Carnival

You’d have to be a very daring person to launch your 2019 costumes on the weekend of Trinidad Carnival. That is just what Insane Carnival did. When Lenroy ‘Captain’ Browne, Insane’s band leader, dropped the save-the-date for their social media band launch, I know many persons thought it was strategically a bad move. But here’s the thing, the Insane camp was confident that they could capture our attention regardless of the frenzy that is Trinidad Carnival. Captain assured us that he wasn’t the least bit worried because he knew what they were going to reveal would surely blow everyone’s mind. It is 2019 and Insane did not come to play, so let’s get things started:

Insane’s t-shirt mas has always been focused around an army theme, and this year was no exception. In previous conversations with Captain he shared with us that he was most excited about their t-shirt mas production that would surround marine-inspired white, gold, black attire designed by Janna Henry, the band’s exclusive designer. In past years we’ve seen a tank on the road and troopers with war-paint all over their faces., so be prepared for the dark aviator sunglasses and white gloves in keeping with this’ year’s themed theartics.

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The Insane Army never shies away from channeling their creative and imaginative spirits when it comes to sticking to their t-shirt mas theme. Their uniformity is second to none and we know they will go all out at the opening of Carnival.

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Insane Savages J’ouvert will be a ‘chemical warfare’ on the streets of St. John’s. Group packages are available for 10 and more persons, and while the chemical gas mask isn’t included, expect to see them on the road as troopers will not be outdone.

So now that we’ve gotten all the formalities out of the way, let us get to the meat of the matter. It was at the end of August last year, a few weeks after Antigua Carnival, when Captain dropped the Insane Carnival costume theme. By revealing the theme so early we were previewed to the fact that Insane was out to kick ass in 2019. In the months thereafter, Captain shared teasers that spoke to the concept of what to expect in 2019: ‘Africa - Return To The Motherland’. He kept the anticipation going, which of course had his troopers sweating bricks and cussin’ while demanding that he just drop the costumes. the suspense was getting to them. The pressure was on for Insane Carnival to deliver, and deliver they did.  

To say the intricate and detailed costumes of Insane Carnival are gorgeous and stand out like never before, would be a grave understatement of the talent of Janna Henry. Having watched how she has evolved as a designer it has been heart-warming to see her skill come full circle. We reached out to the busy creative to find out how she was able to piece everything together for this year’s production.

Janna jumped into the industry’s market much later than most of the established costume designers in the region. If you let her tell it she would say that she unintentionally unearthed her design talent. “I have always loved making and fiddling with things, but never costumes. Looking back, I actually simply enjoyed playing mas and going to launches. However, I started doing the mass-production for our band in the first year (2014) and after studying the make and built of the pieces, I decided to give costume design a try. The second year (2015) I did 2-3 sections. In retrospect people responded to them better than deserved.” She says.

Janna hasn’t had an easy journey since she began to develop her design asthetique. “It’s been a long learning curve. Information is not easily shared in the industry, which can be a challenge. Nonetheless the opportunity to continue to push myself and satisfy the market has been a rewarding process.”

One of Janna’s toughest lesson to date has been learning to curb disasters. “Thinking my plans are full proof but then realizing things are outside of my control, for instance seamstresses, feather dying, and sourcing the right fabric in bulk can really set you back. These were the issues our band faced the year we did our RIO theme (2015). So I’ve learned to always have a back-up plan and exercise excellent customer service when things happen outside of my control.” In spite of different setbacks and constantly having to manage the learning curve, the push, support and encouragement from Captain continues to champion Janna’s progress.

So what is the actual design process like for Janna? She shared with us that she first researches concepts and ideas with the thought to complete design boards. She then delves right into creating prototypes, gets her bodysuit options made and begins to build the feather work and accessories to complete the costume. “If I’m lucky the costume works on the first try, but a lot of times it’s a constant process of rebuilding and reworking until model fittings.” She says, “ ….and even then, I may still rework if an element isn’t working or the design isn’t strong enough.“ Janna admitted to us that on one occasion they had shot a costume and ended up having to go back to the design table to make adjustments. “I hated how it photographed and went back to build it over...because we do a social media launch the images are important.”

It is clear that Janna pours her heart and soul into every costume design. For most people, one important aspect of the production that definitely stood out with the Insane Carnival designs this year are the many variations for each section for women. There is a costume option that flatters almost every body type. “It’s done on purpose and it is our strategy to design with full figured women in mind, sometimes we use their images as the main image to sell a section. It’s a great marketing campaign because our research shows women love the inclusivity, even when they aren’t full figured themselves. Our plus-size options are definitely not an after-thought or a gap filler.”

This year, Insane Carnival has stepped their game up not only with their costume design and production but by also introducing overseas marketers for a few of their sections. Trauma Unit out of NYC, Caribbean Beauties and the popular Bajan Tube brand are all section marketers. This strategic move ensures that the band reaches an even larger audience pool. Both Captain and Janna have made it no secret that they intend to take the Insane Carnival brand globally. In just 5 years they are showing signs of achieving that goal at a much faster rate than any of us would have thought. .

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As part of our 2019 Antigua Carnival partnership with Insane Carnival, persons living overseas that sign up for one of our YAT Concierge Antigua Carnival packages will receive a discount on their costume if they opt to play mas with the band.

View all of the 2019 costumes, Monday wear, t-shirt mas and jouvert options here, and claim you discount by booking your trip with us here.

Our DOSE 4-events fete package are also officially endorsed Insane Carnival parties, so get your tickets and season passes ASAP.

Stay updated on everything Insane Carnival by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Stay tuned in to more from our blog. We have a few more band launches, costume reviews and Top Shelf Events Antigua Carnival partnership announcements to share with you including an opportunity for two lucky persons to win an all-expenses paid trip to Antigua Carnival.

If you are interested in becoming one of our 2019 Antigua Carnival partners or sponsors, send an email to atopshelfevent@gmail.com .