Earl ‘Fuzzy’ Franklin: COSTUME CREATOR

By Cecelia Campbell-Livingston Observer staff reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 28, 2013

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FOR 25 years Earl 'Fuzzy' Franklin has created some of the most innovative costumes in the annual Bacchanal road march.

But he plans to step away from the bump and grind soon, and is on the hunt for a committed apprentice.

"When I am done, that's it. So I'm looking for an apprentice to learn this skill properly," Franklin told the Jamaica Observer.

A former aircraft engineer, Franklin was first drawn to costume design after he got involved with bandleader Byron Lee's Jamaica Carnival nearly 30 years ago.

"He used to control everything himself and costume was the losing side, entertainment was the money maker and he wanted to divest from it," said Franklin.

While working with Lee, Franklin got an important hook-up with Gerald Hart, one of Trinidad and Tobago's leading costume designers who taught him the tricks of the trade.

"After frequent back and forth and buying from a number of bands who used to
produce costumes in Trinidad and watching them, it dawned on me that I could do it and maybe even better!"

Unlike carnival-mad Trinidad where there are many eager apprentices, in Jamaica it is a completely different scenario. Despite the absence of a suitable successor, Franklin says he is as excited and inspired as his debut year.

"I am motivated by happy people. I am very happy when I see their expressions and know that my team and I are a part of that joy," he said.

Franklin admits inspiration for designs is a bit more challenging these days.

"In the old days we used to have themes, for example, Birds of Paradise. I would look at birds and plan the colour scheme around it. Now we don't, so I go to New York to trim shops and buy a couple of things -- you know, mix and match."

Born in Black River, St Elizabeth Franklin came to Kingston in the early 1960s and attended St Mary's College. In 1964, he migrated to Washington, DC where he studied aircraft engineering.

Returning home in the 1970s, he worked for a number of years at the Norman Manley International Airport before going into craftmaking, supplying companies like Things Jamaica.His foray into organised carnival came with Lee before joining the Bachanal troupe in 1989.




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