Seeing their costumes swirl on a YouTube video, you can taste the thrill of Carnival. But the outfits are made to be seen in detail, and these videos are visions through a dirty window. With the window wiped clean, Fantasias are a revelation.

The extraordinary stories behind a dance can be told through its costumes. COLORS took a dive through YouTube, trying to find those pieces of fabric and feather that give life to dance. Between the blur and blend of glittering pixels, we found these beautiful outfits. Here, to delight your eyes: Fantasias.

Like birds of paradise, like peacocks that display their feathers to seduce, like flowers that germinate and greet the sun with wide-open petals, the beautiful dresses in Poços de Caldas, in Minas de Gerais, Brazil are built to decorate the dance and revelry of Carnival. Their name, Fantasias de Luxo, does justice to the grandeur of this surreal act, and their spirit, colorful and bright, is the trigger that makes the party explode.

Three-and-a-half meters of splendor built from feathers and sequins, 80 kilograms of pure beauty, these are the perfect measurements, the 90-60-90 necessary for a beauty contest that transforms Brazilian streets into catwalks, and spectators into juries. Between beers and pealing drums, the destaques (the most elaborate Fantasias that open the party) encapsulate stories of rebellion, happiness, love and tradition between luscious embroidery and glass.

The beautiful ones are applauded; the astonishing ones leave people breathless. Behind those that suffocate with their splendor is an alchemist called Marcus Togni, the conductor of an orchestra of more than 600 hands. Since 1974, day and night, he has sewn, glued and painted the jewels of Carnival: the most beautiful Fantasias de Luxo.

'We started our work in 1974', says Togni. 'We were a soccer team, at first, but then we became a school of samba, a carnival block, and today, Saci-Pô, my school, has more than 300 people creating the most beautiful destaques in Brazil.'

With more than 12,000 dresses in his collection, 350 of which are Fantasias de Luxo, Togni and his army of dancing artisans have become living testimony to a tradition that makes the heart beat stronger. Mounted on trucks, strapped to the bodies of gorgeous women who enliven the costumes with movements of their hips and waist, and accompanied by drum lines that make the blood boil, these Fantasias de Luxo are the throbbing and radiant core of the most famous dance party in the world.

78_fanatasias_image7Reflexos da natureza


'In Saci-Pô school we create magic. To build a simple Fantasia requires 20 days and a few pairs of hands. To build a destaque you need around five months and an army of workers.' – Marcus Togni

78_fanatasias_image8No reino da mÃe do ouro


Central to the spirit of Carnival, a costume like this can cost between 10,000 and 20,000 US dollars. Jewelry, exotic feathers, plush fabrics and hand-made embroidery are painstakingly assembled into a stunning piece of art.

78_fanatasias_image9Misterios da noite


Every year Fantasias represent topics important to Carnival. The costumes tell old stories, make political statements, present allegories, or celebrate Brazilian folk tradition. This year's costumes are inspired by the journeys of Marco Polo. Some of the themes for Fantasias currently being built at the Saci-Pô school are China, India and pasta.