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