Geraldo Vieira (24th Nov 1938 - 21st Sep 2012)
Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 2
Geraldo Vieira is a carnival costume designer, technologist and an entrepreneur. Without any formal training in costume-making, science or design, he was responsible for some of the more technically-innovative costumes seen in the Kings of Carnival competition in Trinidad and Tobago over the last few decades. His designs won the title, King of Carnival nine times, and for three consecutive years from 1981. They include The Demon Mantis, Mystic Dawn and Wind – An element of life. His design, the Swimming Angel, won Junior Queen of Carnival. He also won similar titles in Toronto, Canada at Caribana in 1996.
Geraldo Vieira was born on 24th November, 1938 in Barataria. He attended the San Juan Government Primary School, and later, trade school and Malick Senior Comprehensive for a short while. Vieira first fell in love with Carnival when he played his first “mas” in 1953.
He participated in carnival competitions since then and created history in 1996 when his son, Geraldo Jr became the country’s youngest King at the age of 19, wearing a costume he designed. He continued the history-making when he became the country’s oldest King at the age of 67 in 2006, portraying The Might of Rome.
Vieira developed a fascination with craft and learned pattern-making as a trade. In the 1950s, wire bending was the popular method used in costume-making and Vieira mastered it, using it for some of his larger and more elaborate work. He replicated birds, fish and even the human form in wire with elaborate detail and accurate proportion.
As an upgrade from wire bending, he pioneered the use of plastic mouldings in his designs. His moulds were made of wood, concrete and bodicila1 to create lighter, stronger costumes. This led to the design of costumes for virtually every diasporic carnival, as well as regional carnivals in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Barbados and St. Lucia.
He introduced the use of pyrotechnics in costumes in 1999, using special effects such as fireworks, robotics and lighting to create spectacular theatrical Kings of Carnival presentations, which won him numerous titles.
With methods that are both effective and cost-efficient, Vieira has always done his own research and is involved at several levels of the design process, even possessing enough skill to design tools for his specific needs. Forty-seven years in the field have given him an extensive knowledge of working with raw and synthetic materials, and he has built some of the most complex and intricate plastic injection moulds in the world. The demand for his moulds for costume-making goes beyond our shores to Curaçao, where he has many clients. His innovations have not, however, been limited to use in carnival costumes. He also produced customised plastic, vacuum form mouldings for the refurbished lobby area of the Trinidad Hilton Hotel and numerous signs for business places throughout the country.
In 2006, Geraldo Vieira designed Trini Revellers’ Rome: The Empire, winning the large band category. In 2007, his band was called The French Revolution, a theme which had not been explored before in Trinidad Carnival. It won second place in Large Band of the Year and Vieira’s costume won second place in the Carnival King category.
The exuberant mas personality passed away on September 21, 2012.