Star seam­stress does her work ‘for the love of it’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

HER SKILL as a seam­stress has seen award-win­ning cos­tume de­signer Jas­mina Brown make more than 900 min­strels out­fits this year – 700 for soldiers, 170 for cap­tains, 20 for di­rec­tors, and about 50 for chil­dren.

And she is ex­pect­ing at least 100 more last-minute or­ders be­fore the Min­strels Car­ni­val starts on Mon­day.

But for Brown, it’s a labour of love – and has been for the past 10 years since the wo­man bet­ter known as “Aunty Jessie” first be­came in­volved in the pop­u­lar Cape Town at­trac­tion.

Work starts in Septem­ber, she says.

“It’s a lot of hard work. But I love ev­ery step – from sewing on but­tons to stitch­ing col­lars and, of course, putting on all those shiny lit­tle se­quins.”

Brown, of Eastridge in Mitchells Plain, has dur­ing the past decade made cos­tumes for mem­bers of var­i­ous troupes, in­clud­ing the reign­ing cham­pi­ons, the San­tam D6 En­ter­tain- ers, as well as the Good Hope En­ter­tain­ers.

“It may seem like a lot of hard work,” she says, “but when you love some­thing as much as I love the min­strels, it isn’t re­ally work.”

Brown ex­plains that the car­ni­val has al­ways been im­por­tant to her fam­ily, which has been in­volved in one way or an­other for years.

“My un­cle was a troupe leader and wrote songs for the car­ni­val.

“I help make the cos­tumes with the help of my sis­ter, Raliyah Hen­dricks, so you could say the car­ni­val is in our blood.”

Tonight Brown will be hard at work at her sewing ma­chine, wrap­ping up late or­ders.

But while she’ll miss out on the New Year’s Eve fes­tiv­i­ties, she’ll make up for it at the Athlone Sta­dium on Mon­day, danc­ing and cheer­ing on the com­pet­ing troupes.

“It’s an un­be­liev­able feel­ing see­ing your work on dis­play, but for me it’s more than that. The colour­ful cos­tumes, the mu­sic, they’re all part of our her­itage and the his­tory of Cape Town it­self. It’s a huge hon­our.”

Brown says she re­mem­bers rid­ing on the floats, dressed as a princess, as a lit­tle girl – en­joy­ing one of the best views of the pa­rade.

“The min­strels’ car­ni­val isn’t about colour or re­li­gion, or any dif­fer­ences.

“It’s about the city com­ing out to wel­come the new year as one, and hav­ing a great time.”

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