Shawn Dhanraj is Delivering a Fashion Renaissance to the Masses

Culture Designers Fashion & Style

Fashion for everybody is the name of the game these days, and Dhanraj is leading the charge towards exclusivity via the Queen of Pop!

His entire career has been leading up to this moment, and now that it is here, it seems as if the movement and the moment have aligned in perfect symmetry through none other than the current queen of pop herself, Beyoncé. For nearly a decade, Shawn Dhanraj has been designing custom-made outfits for both men and women for Carnival. Now only in his mid-20s, the creative force has seen a significant shift in how Carnival is marketed towards the rest of the world, and how women of color are changing perceptions of the event. With Carnival seen as a time to bring communities across the diaspora together, celebrate, and contest societal norms, Dhanraj is using this period of joy and indulgence to shatter perceptions of what is traditional and create designs for people of all shapes and sizes.

Carnival Bodies and the Culture Clash

Known for featuring scantily-clad women throughout the festival for generations, some women that participate in the event are directly challenging conventional notions and demanding that the floodgates open up to include more body-positive designs to showcase curvy women and acknowledge the fact that most women are not a size 6. With Carnival seen as a rite of passage for many in the region as well as beyond, critics note that it is even more important for young girls and young women to see a positive celebration of plus-sized bodies and the bold fashions that adorn every woman.

credit: @_shawndhanraj

Body Positivity Throughout the Diaspora and Beyond

What better place and time than Carnival to directly confront the issue of body positivity that has been a hotbed of debate for generations throughout the diaspora and particularly during Carnival, where bodies are on display all day in various states of undress. As one of the most famous global events, Carnival sets trends that reach the four corners of the earth, and the message sent to such a wide audience has been fractured in many ways and the current course of action by many has been to course correct for present and future generations of revelers.

Post-pandemic Carnival has been an opportune time for many masqueraders to revolt against the stereotypical slimmer women wearing costumes to include various sizes as a way to empower all women. The narrative of all women being the same size has been criticized as flawed, out of date, and in need of an overhaul.

Enter Shawn Dhanraj. Enter Beyonce. Enter the revamp.

credit @_shawndhanraji

The Beyoncé Effect Goes Global

One superstar leading the charge towards more inclusive sizing is Beyonce, who proved she was listening to fans with the announcement of her highly anticipated Adidas collection. The second release of her celebrated line included plus sizes up to 4X, causing a ripple effect in the clothing industry that has been hailed as another indicator of the direction of fashion worldwide. Her allyship went even further than most, however when she launched her global tour and featured plus-size dancers, backup singers, and musicians as part of her entourage. As only she can, Beyoncé used the power of social media to reach her fans, with #RenaissanceTourOutfits inspiring concertgoers to get into the groove by making their own unique fashions as part of the ‘Renaissance’ movement.

The Future Is Now!

One of the most popular track on her album, ‘Alien Superstar’ has been one of the most inspirational for many, with many fans looking to recreate the look according to their own interpretation of the hit song. For some, this involved creating fashion that included intricate rhinestone detailing on everything from tops and bodices to shoes and accessories.

Shawn Dhanraj caused a sensation with his own take on the album and the icon, debuting a silver metallic outfit from head to toe for men that took the look to the next level. The revealing, blinged-out ensemble included a one-sleeved embellished crop top, matching metallic pants and silver boots. Made only a few hours before the show in Toronto, it was not only the perfect outfit for a Beyoncé show, but in step with a Carnival aesthetic, an arena the designer is all too familiar with and celebrated for.

Recreation as the Ultimate Form of Flattery

Beyoncé’s affinity for crystals and shiny things is well-known, and if you’re seeking a glamorous Renaissance experience, you can capture the same aesthetic by creating your own unique top. For those more adventurous and comfortable in their own skin, a bodysuit with strategic cut-outs is a definite showstopper. And last but not least, platform sandals can be adorned with rhinestones or beads for the perfect #ClubRenaissance look.

To celebrate the Club Renaissance aesthetic, many fans have been turning to online sites to make their own versions that pay homage to Carnival and the belief that fashion for this event and others can and should involve all shapes and sizes. With the tour still ongoing, fans still have time to research the world wide web and put their own unique take on fashion that is global and without restraint.

Time to celebrate the Renaissance for forward fashion!