Dame Lorraine – Carnival is Woman
She saunters past swaying her voluptuous hips. Her heavy bosom catches the onlooker’s eye and she beckons them with a shy smile and a seductive wink behind her lace fan. Under the beautiful gowns, Dame Lorraine is royalty.
In the 18th and 19th century, the French plantation owners held elaborate fêtes before the Lenten season. They donned masks and every aristocrat was fashionably dressed. The ladies’ fashion of the day were heavily brocaded gowns with huge skirts, fans and hats. The slaves would peep through the windows and see their owners enjoying the revelry.
During this time, Dame Lorraine (the Character) was born. The slaves would portray this character with exaggerated features such as a voluptuous bosom and a large bottom. Dame Lorraine was originally a collection of characters that took part in an elaborate skit of the French plantation owners. They were also played by men.
This original character of Carnival is an ode to the French roots in the Caribbean. Today, Dame Lorraine is mainly played by women. You will see her elegantly moving through the streets under her parasol.
Some say “Carnival is woman” and Dame Lorraine embodies the creativity, the poise and the wit of the mas makers.