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  • Masked Singers, New and Old

    Back in the Spring, in the early days of the Pandemic and lockdown, a new entertainment show hit our TV screens – the Masked Singer (TMS). This show, based on a Korean original, featured celebs singing in outlandish mascot-style costumes, whilst other celebs tried to guess their identities. We covered this phenomenon in our Spring Newsletter and, as we come to Christmas, and a curtain-raiser on the second series is being broadcast on Boxing Day, we thought we'd revisit the topic as part of our retrospective. We do have a range of mascot-style outfits, but not too many because they are impractical in many respects: Aside from being hot and heavy, viability is limited and, without the hi-tech that allows the celebs on TMS to communicate, you can't speak, let alone eat and drink – you're in a sort of soft padded prison. Like many aspects of costuming, they can look great but bring their own problems: You usually need a minder, not only to make up for the lack of visibility – you can't easily see where you are walking – but to prevent you tripping over small children who want to hug the big furry- whatever. But it's the itch that's the worst: It's not until you are inside a 'suit' and your hands are 'outside' that you realise how much you take the ability to deal with an odd itch with an absent-minded scratch for granted. The golden rule is that, like any costumed entity, you have to stay in character, and in a mascot you find whole new levels of tolerance. Back in the day, when the Wombles were at their peak, several small children were traumatised when a Womble in a live show took off his head before he was properly out of sight. Talking of the Wombles, (and repeating a story we told in the Spring), they, of course, were well ahead of the game in masked singing, actually clocking up a number of chart hits. As with the Masked Singer programme, few knew who was in the costumes, and the Wombles’ music maestro Mike Batt has revealed that, on one occasion, the members of Steeleye Span (known for Christmas hits All Around My Hat and Gaudete) filled the furry outfits. Just for the record, for reasons of copyright and the problems of practicality noted above, we do not have any Womble outfits in our collection. However, mindful of the Wombles' pioneering environment work, and how costuming can make a good visual news story, we have been known to do some insect-related Litter Bugs for a Telethon!

  • Taking to the Stage

    18 December 2020 In a normal year, it's around now people get involved in 'seasonal productions'. At one end of the scale there are the schools: The 'landscape' on the Nativity Play has shifted in recent years to cater to the more multicultural demographic – whilst Joseph, Mary and the Christ Child are still usually the traditional focal point, the nature of their visitors has broadened out. Remember the Nativity in 'Love Actually' featuring a spaceman, lobster and whale? We've had our fair share of requests based on Blue Sky Thinking. One year we had a request based on a local school deciding they wanted the children dressed as planets. Revealing a surprising gap in the costume market as no-one actually makes planet costumes, we improvised with a reversed pumpkin costume. Another year, at the height of the Finding Nemo popularity, the idea was the children as fish. On the other hand there are the pantos (and variations), and, as has been repeated a lot in the current crisis, the supposed supportive mainstay of the theatre business. Here the landscape has also changed – many large theatres and even organisations like the BBC, have given up having wardrobe departments, on the grounds of the cost of maintenance and space. Theatres and local authorities 'buy in' productions from specialist companies. The tradition still thrives at village am-dram level but arguably, current restrictions aside, lack of retail fabric outlets and aspects of fast fashion, are causing costume-making skills to be lost. In the early days, we actually wrote our own pantos – it was one way of getting costumes used, but in the wider market, whilst we can't kit out whole productions (no space, for one thing), there are occasional requests for outfits people cannot source – mainstream panto costumes online are rather sparse, unless you get lucky on eBay. Sometimes matching a Director's vision to reality can be a challenge, but we usually have the ability to come to a compromise.

  • Antrix - What's in a Name (It's not Rocket Science)

    17 December 2020 ​ Antrix reached its thirtieth anniversary on 17 December 2020. We recently phased-out our old antrixonline BT hosted website because, amongst other things, Wix offers better facilities and support. Other things? It's not rocket science, or rather it is. Back when Antrix started, we created an easier made-up name (we thought), than the initial Antares Art Tricks/Antartrix, which we had used for the then existing hobby – Peter being tricksy with his star-sign. Unbeknown to us, Antrix is also a Sanskrit-derived word meaning Space – fine for Blue SkyThinking in respect of costuming (and in those days, we were not too short of storage space). However, over on the Indian sub-continent, a space-rocket/satellite firm was developing its expertise, also under an Antrix name. They provide weather satellites and other such equipment internationally, we provide costume services in South-East England. They and we have co-existed quite well over the years and aside from the day someone rang us from America, wanting the Antrix IT Department, our paths have not crossed. (Back in the early days of domain registration, we also found a Swedish night-club and a breed of Boston terriers with an Antrix name). Anyway, rocket-based Antrix has taken off (YouTube has a good selection of space-based pictures/videos from them), there are other Antrix's (Antricies?) online, including a gaming platform. Although we retain an online presence with websites, Twitter & Facebook, as we don't actually trade online, we thought we would consolidate to a more costume related site www.antrixcostumesmaidstone.co.uk Not quite so snappy, but since we have also been confused with Amtrak, the US rail and mail business and Anthrax, the cattle disease (don't ask), the new name says most of it. The Wix site overlapped the BT antrixonline site for a few months, and the Search Engines mostly picked up on the change. Now we have finished with the BT site, we have retained antrixonline with a sub-site, mirroring the main antrixcostumesmaidstone facility. The former is gradually being modified to make it more suitable for hand-held devices and hence improve our accessibility.

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  • Antrix Fancy Dress, Costume Hire & Theme Support, Maidstone

    Welcome to Antrix Costumes We have costumes for over sixty themes. The graphic based list is on the A-Z of Themes button or a text-based version is at this link Meanwhile, here are links to some of the currently most popular themes. . Antrix is the A-Z (almost) of costume hire and theme support in the Maidstone area. ​ I f we can help you with any costumes or accessories , please contact us by phone or email. Phone 01622 744711 for the fastest response. We look forward to helping you and meanwhile, stay safe... ​ The A-Z buttons take you straight to the costume pictures and theme headings. Although we continually update our websites, it is not possible to show everything we have in stock. If you are looking for something in particular but cannot find it, please contact us. Our alternative website antrixonline uses flip-folio facilities to reduce screen scrolling. Look for the flip-book logos to access such pages. HIRE PRICE GUIDELINES Adult Costumes - Hire fees average £22. A refundable £50 per costume security deposit, is required. Unfortunately putting the deposit on card incurs an additional £2 fee. Children's Costumes - Hire fees average £15 (A refundable security deposit of £20 per costume, subject to the same terms as above, is required). Sometimes you have a costume theme to work with, sometimes you don't (and some will ignore it anyway - they didn't want to go to the party in the first place, so they're going 'as themselves') ​ If you have a particular (or peculiar) theme event in mind, please contact us (details at the foot of the page). ​ Why come to Antrix for your Costume/Fancy Dress needs ? Free parking (usually right outside). ​ Ability to ‘try before you hire’ You can mix and match elements to create a unique look Please note:- We are cunningly disguised as a private house, so please ring beforehand to ensure exclusive and safe access. ​

  • Chinese New Year | antrix-costumes

    Whereas the date of New Year in most of the Western World is fixed at January 1st., other cultures and religions may use other dates. Following calendar reform in the Han Dynasty 2000 years ago, the Chinese settled on a system which ties the date of New Year to the lunar year (which is shorter than the solar year). This system means that whereas we put an extra day into our calendar every four years, the Chinese put in a whole extra ('intercalary') month in the fourth year. The New Year date itself is roughly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and therefore will be somewhere between 21st January and 20th February. For 2022, the Year of the Tiger starts on 1st February. ​ As most people know, Chinese Years run in a 12 year cycle with each named after an animal. Legend has it that these were the twelve animals which attended a New Year Party held by Buddha. The cycle starts with the Rat (2020), who hitched a ride on the back of the ox and then jumped off to run ahead to get there first. He is followed by the Ox (or Water-buffalo) (2021), Tiger (2022), Rabbit (2023), Dragon (2024), Snake (2025), Horse (2026), Ram (2027), Monkey (28), Rooster (29), Dog (30) and Pig (31). Other animal substitutes occur in other sources: The Ram is sometimes a Goat and according to some, the year 2000 started in the Year of the Cat! ​ To the non-Chinese it is probably difficult to appreciate the tremendous importance of the Chinese New Year to almost all aspects of business and social life: Everyone knows what 'animal' they are, business negotiations are influenced by the 'animals' involved and as the old year ends, maternity wards may be crowded with women wanting to be induced, so their child will be born in the 'right' year. ​ The underlying theme of New Year is one of renewal, settlement of debts and the ability to start afresh. The festivities cause disruption to daily normal life and traditionally used to last for fifteen days. In modern times, as Life and, more importantly, Business has to go on, the festival is usually kept to three days. To the Chinese, the festival combines the elements of the strong family occasion we celebrate at Christmas (and the Americans have at Thanksgiving), and the renewal of spiritual beliefs many faiths celebrate at their respective major celebrations and observances. Preparations With renewal the keynote, the twentieth day of the Twelfth Moon is designated as a day for floor-sweeping. This involves a top to bottom spring-clean to rid households of the dust and misfortunes of the past year. (Once the New Year starts, sweeping, cleaning and even washing is banned for two days in case any new luck is accidentally destroyed). Once houses are cleaned, households then start to stock up with food and presents for the New Year on the assumption that shops will be closed (much as we do for Christmas). On New Years Eve, everyone (including children) is expected to stay up to past midnight - failing to do so is said to shorten your life - and much like a combination of our Christmas and New Year, the streets and temples are filled with people as the New Year starts. Other customs involve strewing courtyards with tree branches and setting fire to them just before midnight, or letting off fire crackers to scare off any Evil and prevent it entering the New Year. Luck Papers, Decorations and Dragons A major feature of the New Year Festivities (and decorations for a Chinese New Year Party) are Luck Papers - red strips of paper with auspicious characters, symbols and sayings on them (usually in gold print). They are normally pasted either side of the doorways and on the lintels, in order to welcome the Gods of the New Year and attract their favour. Other papers featuring characters such as the Fu (Happiness), Lu (Success) and Tai Chi (Good Luck) and depictions of the Gods and symbolic figures, or objects such as fish and well-fed children, are hung around the rest of the house. These papers are easily obtainable (along with depictions of the relevant Animal of the coming year) from Chinese artefact shops over the New Year period. Additionally, specialist street-traders will write out personal luck papers if required. Aside from these specialist outlets, poster and print shops are increasingly carrying framed representations of Chinese characters (sometimes with translations) and other artefacts (candles and candle-holders, incense burners, etc.,) can also be found fairly easily. Red and Gold are the colours denoting prosperity and wealth, and hence these should feature heavily as the theme colours. Also, one of the presents given to relatives, especially children, over the period are 'Red Packets' - envelopes containing token amounts of money. Similar envelopes, probably containing facsimile money, can also feature as decorations. One of the spectacles of the New Year festivities is the Feeding of the Luck Dragon in which a ceremonial dragon, accompanied by percussionist, 'dances' around the streets and in and out of shops and is 'fed' with red packets, either put directly into its mouth or dangled on fishing lines from upper floors (it brings its own step-ladder to help it reach!). We make suggestions for costumes relating to this theme below. Potential hirers might wish to exercise discretion in their choices in view of the ethnic aspects involved, which may cause offence to some. For a more general Oriental Theme and Costume pictures. an alternative theme page is available here .

  • A - Z of Themes | antrix-costumes

    Themes showing this book logo use flip-folio format As an alternative to this graphic menu, a text-based version can be found here Short & Sassy

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