London, prepare for the explosion of colour coming your way.
Carnival is back this bank holiday weekend (August 27-28), and will bring its luminous feathers, fresh beats and bouncing crowds to west London once again. We can count on one thing: the turnout will be strong, and the outfits will be stronger. If you are yet to seal the deal with your final ‘fit, though, fear not. We’ve spoken to some Notting Hill aficionados to get you on the proper path.
Take notes — and we’ll see you on the streets.
She broadcasts, has a hoot with her mum on Gogglebox, and Miquita Oliver is also a self-proclaimed Carnival pro. “I grew up in Portobello and can honestly talk through the history of my life through the Carnivals of my childhood,” she says. “I love that it’s the last big party of the summer.” For her, the clothes are key. “It’s the one time you can be a bit naked — go as far with that as your heart will let you. Wear things that are sheer, with strings, and are short!” She has a few rules: “Do not be an idiot — do not wear high heels to Carnival. Always trainers. You want to be able to run around. And wear clothes that make you feel free.” Her two absolute essentials? “A bottle of rum and a good friend.”
The upcoming, upcycling fashion designer Liberty Rose thanks Carnival for getting her label Studio Seventy off the ground. “In 2018, I turned these Gucci bags into a matching two-piece bikini top and wrap skirt. The response I got from it made me do more and sell them, which kicked off my brand,” she says. All she added for Carnival was a neon feather boa, Gucci mules “and a Gucci bottle bag to put my Wray & Nephew in — you know.” Having attended the festivities since childhood, she has some sound styling advice. “Stay true to you, be your authentic self, and go colourful!” You’ll nail a Ladbroke Grove look wearing the bralette and skirt two-pieces from her collection. “Just don’t forget your fan, sunglasses and fully charged phone.”
For musician Bradley Miller, known as cktrl, Carnival is more than a party. “It’s a celebration of us, and demonstrates everything that’s good about Britain since the Windrush Generation were invited here,” he says. “My ancestors gave the UK culture and Carnival gave us, the younger generation, hope.” He is “super gassed” for its return, and has a few hot tips for the fellas: “dancehall and reggae allow for more variety with your wardrobe, but remember ‘real badman nuh model inna shorts’.” So no shorts, but “it’s T-shirt weather and singlet energy, with a good shoe — but not too good, because there’s potential for them to get mash up.” One thing he wouldn’t go without? “A Jamaican flag.”
Neon knitwear label AGR is the certified go-to for standing out in a crowd, and thanks Carnival for some of the brand’s spark. “It’s where the magic started for AGR,” says founder Alicia Robinson, who had her London Fashion Week debut last season. “Carnival is the best weekend of the year in London, I can’t wait to dance and soak in all of the energy,” she says. Three words to sum up the perfect look? “Sexy, tight and colourful,” Robinson says: things AGR offer in spades. “It’s all about skin out and bright colours. Nothing is too much!”
Radio 1’s Tiffany Calver is counting down the days. “Carnival is up there alongside Christmas and New Year’s Eve for me,” she says. “The entire city feels like it lights up and comes together like one big family party.” For your ‘fit, her advice is simple: “Anything goes! But that Carnival route makes doing the Duke of Edinburgh look like crossing the road, so I always wear a pair of Nikes or Converse so that my feet don’t fail me.” You will be able to spot her flying the flag of St Lucia, and well-stocked up on the (not so) secret Carni ingredient: “Rum. Rum. More rum. And some rum.” Safe to say that one seems essential.