'Carnival is a time to celebrate freedom, love and creativity' - What Inspires Me with MSL's Kim Allain

The MSL creative offers an insight into what stirs her creativity.

Magic and fairy tales

I’m not entirely sure I have grown up yet and not too sure if I ever will – and to be honest, does any creative ever really grow up? Our jobs as creatives is to allow our imaginations to roam freely every day to magic up concepts, campaigns and tactics. We all often pull from references in our lives or things we’ve seen and experienced, inclusive of moments that excited us in our childhoods.

For me, it’s magic. Magic and fairy tales and bedtime stories helped me to create incredible imaginary worlds in my head when I was little and gave me permission to feel like the impossible could happen. I still go to Disney and get excited when I see the projections and the fireworks and I still read Harry Potter books and get swept away in the spellbinding magic.

And that magic and awe still excites and inspires ideas every day. On that note apologies to the poor account teams of present, past and future that have heard some of my wackier ideas derived from some magical world I’ve just read about, and had to talk me off the ledge due to its near impossibility.

Carnival culture

This is no news to anyone that knows me – I am a true island girl and love everything about Caribbean culture. From the music, to the food, to their light-hearted mannerisms. My family are from the beautiful little island of St Lucia and I had the opportunity to spend the six weeks holidays there every year from a very young age, which is where my love of carnival started.

For some, carnival is a time to dance in the streets, have a piss-up with mates and eat plenty of jerk chicken – but for those involved it is so much more.

Born out of slavery, carnival is a time of year for those who participate to celebrate freedom, love and creativity. For those who don’t know, at the end of the carnival route bands and trucks who participate have the opportunity to “cross the stage”. This is a point where carnival costumes and bands are judged on their costume themes as well as the energy and music of the band.

For me that is the most interesting part – looking at the colours, materials and techniques used on each costume to really interpret what the designers intended theme and message was. As a designer of my own carnival costumes I enjoy the process of looking at different cultural references and designs and interpreting it into a piece of art.

One carnival costume designer I have become obsessed with recently, that I’d advise people to check out, is Melissa Simon-Hartman. She is a proud Trinidadian living in London who designs carnival costumes and got the opportunity to design the stunning chess board costume for Beyoncé in Black is King.


Anyone else had that moment where you look up a video on YouTube about how to de-worm your cat and end up two hours later watching a documentary on the cat lady who had 50 procedures to add whiskers to her face? Just me?

I find myself often falling into weird spirals of watching what initially seems like crap on YouTube but then ends up being super useful information somewhere down the line.

Being creative is fundamentally about connecting dots to create a story and what helps is having a barrage of references and knowledge points to connect those dots. I often find the most obscure bits of knowledge from the weird videos, documentaries and funny content on YouTube.

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