Carnival is a pagan festival in which participants say goodbye to earthly pleasures before entering quarantine, a period of deprivation that precedes the Easter feast of the Catholic liturgy.
Under this celebration of hedonism, it was convenient for many revelers to preserve their identity, so they wore disguises. Carnival was even an opportunity for social criticism.
In ancient times, the lower classes would mock the aristocracies by wearing costumes that ridiculed their sumptuous lifestyles. This began in Venice's carnivals in the 13th and 14th centuries, and also happened in Brazil at the time of the Portuguese Empire.
When the parades went from the streets to the newly inaugurated Sambodromo in 1984, the parade's aesthetics consider the verticality of the new stadium. The most luxurious costumes went up the top of the floating cars for a better view from the stands.
In the past, contests that focus on fantasy, luxury, and originality were popular on Brazilian prime TV. They revealed to the viewers fantastic artists like Clovis Bornay, Evandro Castro Lima, Zacharias do Rego Monteiro, Mauro Rosas, Marlene Paiva, and Wilza Carla. The most famous contests were those of the Municipal Theater, Copacabana Palace, Clube Monte Líbano, and Hotel Glória. The latter ran from 1974 to 2008 and was perhaps the most prestigious of all.
Nowadays, the fanciest costumes parade on top of the car floats. The are luxury pieces showcasing the most refined of the "haute couture" of Carnival.
Nelcimar Pires is curator of The Greatest Party on Earth.
He became an iconic name of Rio’s Carnival after becoming a Hors Concours at the famous Hotel Gloria contest after winning several times.
His mesmerizing creations had traveled to shows and exhibitions across Brazil, Asia, North America and Europe.