When captain "Wild Bill" Razzano leads the Greater Overbrook String Band down Broad Street in the New Year's Day Mummers Parade, he'll be wearing an eye-popping costume designed by Art Institute of Philadelphia graduate Briana Bailey, 26, of Germantown.
Bailey, who said, "I was trying hard not to float away," when she won the school's Mummers design contest, was inspired by her 18-month-old niece, Ellie, as the two sat watching old New Year's Day parades on PHL17's all-Mummers sub-channel 17.4.
"When Ellie would jump up and down, and laugh, I would make a note as to what she was laughing at," Bailey said. "She knew what fabrics were good and what fabrics were not good. She's definitely got the touch. I trust her.
"Ellie likes feathers. Mummers like feathers. I said, 'What the hey, put some feathers on the suit.' "
Bailey said Ellie's tastes are much older than her 18 months.
"I think Ellie's somebody who has come back from another life," Bailey said, laughing. "She absolutely adores Bruno Mars. She likes James Brown. She loves the Bee Gees. I'm like, 'She's definitely been here before.' "
Razzano, who has captained the Greater Overbrook String Band since 2013, felt the same way about Bailey's design for his suit.
"Her vibrant blues and yellows and greens just popped!" Razzano exclaimed. "She just nailed it."
Razzano said that although the craftsmen who make the costumes have artistic license to create their own interpretations of a design, Greater Overbrook's costumer, Al DelBuono, invited Bailey to his South Philly inner sanctum so she could be part of the process.
Mummers clubs are highly competitive and the costumes are kept secret until New Year's Day, so DelBuono was trusting Bailey to honor the unspoken code: "What happens in DelBuono's stays in DelBuono's."
"No Mummer has ever seen the inside of Al DelBuono's studio," Razzano said. "I can't see another Mummer's suit and they can't see mine. It's top secret. That's no-man's land back there."
Bailey will never forget her visit to no-man's land.
"I was honest-to-goodness shocked," Bailey said. "I saw all those fabrics and my jaw was on the floor."
Bailey practically grew up in Germantown's FreshVisions Youth Theatre Company, where her mother, Carol Lumford, has been creating costumes for years.
"I started dancing and performing there when I was 12," Bailey said, "but everybody will tell you I started at three. I was 'Baby New Year' . . . I ran out, I saw all those people, I screamed, and I ran off the stage.
"We have a video of it and I always tell my family, 'Please don't show anybody,' but they do. I've got my hands over my face, going, 'Oh, dear goodness.' "
Razzano said he's thrilled with his Bailey-designed Mummers suit and hopes to run the contest again next year.
"We want to attract the millennials to the Mummers," he said. "We need those 18- to 38-year-olds.
"I'm 53. I don't know how many years I have left wearing a 50-pound suit on Broad Street."