Zulu International’s band launch might have taken Crop-Over to a whole new level

Wings at last, wings at last, thank goodness, WINGS! AT! LAST!

Can you tell I’m excited? Zulu International’s band launch was last night and wow – what a difference a year makes!

After basically killing it for Crop-Over last year (Rihanna jumped with them. Need we say more?), Zulu has a whole new host of fans and high level sponsors and it showed as everything was a step up from last year’s launch, from the venue to the set up to the massive crowd. The Concorde Experience venue was jam-packed last night with thousands of people eager to see if they could come as good as  last year.

They came better. Way better, with a presentation that I daresay is the best we’ve ever seen at Crop-Over. And if you have been following Islandista for a while, you would know – that is no idle talk because we are pretty obsessed with mas. Long time we tracking this t’ing.

Designer and Zulu director Lauren Austin and her team just stepped it up to a whole new level of glamour, sexiness and innovation with their Once Upon A Time presentation.

There was a lot that set it apart but first and most excitingly (given my documented obsession), there. were. wings! The section Enchanted which pays tribute to the fairies of myth and legend, featured shimmering, iridescent wings on the back line, front line and the spectacular individual costume (more on the individuals later).

Zulu International's Enchanted section. (Photo credit: zuluinternational.com)

Zulu International’s Enchanted section. (Photo credit: zuluinternational.com)

Looka muh costume here! I’ve got the feels about this. So long I’ve been waiting…

(pulling self together). As I said, there was even more that has set Zulu’s presentation this year apart.

First, every single section has both a front line and backline – something which is commonplace in Trinidad but had not yet fully taken off in Barbados. In recent years, bands have started doing a few front lines but Zulu stepped it up with a front line option for every single section.

Next, there are no ‘meh’ costumes. You know how every band usually has one kind of throwaway section where it seems they just ran out of puff? There is none of that this year. Every single costume is beautiful, with great colour combos. The closest to ordinary they got is in the Snow White section which is blue, gold and white – and that’s only because Barbadian Crop-Over bands tend to do the blue and gold combination soooo often – perhaps because blue and gold are the national colours? That was the only section that gave me a ‘seen it before’ vibe but the design is really faultless.

Snow White - the colours are a play to the 'traditional' costume of Snow White as depcited by Disney  but it also feels very Barbadiana and as such, a common colour combo in Bim.

Snow White – the colours are a play to the ‘traditional’ costume of Snow White as depcited by Disney but it also feels very Barbadiana and as such, a common colour combo in Bim.

In terms of innovation, they’ve tried out some things that I appreciate and you can see that they actually spent time and thought on their theme’s story, even putting a gory twist on the Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

I absolutely loved the Desperate Souls section which was a tribute to the Evil Queen of Snow White and other fairy tales. This is probably my second favourite section. For one, I like that they bigged up the baddies of fairy tales and in fact, I would have liked to see more costumes dedicated to the villains and villainesses.

Evil Queen Frontline from the Desperate Souls section.

Evil Queen Frontline from the Desperate Souls section.

But most of all, I loved the innovative headpieces which went away from the traditional feathered headpiece and the hot-right-now tiaras for a dramatic, spiked crown with face-framing chains (backline option) that echoed that of the Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. The effect is slightly sinister and amazing.

Evil Queen backline.

Evil Queen backline.

I also am in love with the Children of the Moon (Red Riding Hood section), in particular the backline which actually features the hood! I was wondering if they would include a hood at all because it can be tricky to do a hood that won’t hide the expensive hairdos chicks get done for jump-up day.

Creatures of the Moon (Red Riding Hood) backline.

Creatures of the Moon (Red Riding Hood) backline.

But Zulu managed it skilfully with a tiara/hood combo that allows the the hood to be somewhat set back and yet still stay on your head. Well played!

I also like that they committed fully to the male costume in this section – the Wolf of course – with a furry, scary costume. I don’t know how many hot boys will go for the fur but I appreciate the effort at committing to your theme.

The Wolf from Creatures of the Moon (Red Riding Hood) in Zulu.

The Wolf from Creatures of the Moon (Red Riding Hood) in Zulu.

And now let us talk about the individuals – or the VIP costume as Zulu is terming them. This is bringing a whole new level to Crop-Over because (again) while individuals have been popular in Trinidad for a long time, in Barbados, the party bands have not tended to do many individuals.

Zulu showcased four stunning individuals last night in the Royalty (Cinderella), Children of the Moon, Desperate Souls and Enchanted sections and they all stunned. The most jaw-dropping and the finale of the show, was the Wicked Witch individual (below). The chunky, mirror-fragment style gems used on the wire bra and bikini bottom were a great touch.

Wicked Witch individual from Desperate Souls.

Wicked Witch individual from Desperate Souls.

The other individuals will all undoubtedly have their fans too.

Royalty individual

Royalty individual

Enchanted individual

Enchanted individual

zulu 2014 children of the moon individual
So what do you think, islandistas? Did Zulu bring it?

2 comments for “Zulu International’s band launch might have taken Crop-Over to a whole new level

  1. May 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Beautiful female costumes, but I’m highly disappointed in the male offerings this year. I remember when Zulu was just a section name in Fantasy and their male Zulu Warrior costume was THE BOMB! What happened since then? What happened to full costumes for guys complete with arm, leg, chest and actual headpieces? Why does it seem like we get 3 out of 4? Forgive the rant but as a masquerader for many years I’ve grown tired of the shafting and lack of creativity that guys get when it comes to costumes. I really wanted to jump with Zulu this year but their male offerings really killed my spirit. Not only women want to look sexy on the road and it’s time these designers realize that!

  2. June 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    is Rihanna jumping with you this yeaar

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