Meet Ruth E Carter, the Black woman behind the costumes of “Black Panther”‘s Wakanda
Black Panther doesn’t hit the theaters until February 18th, 2018, but that isn’t stopping us from being excited and reviving #BlackPanthersolit every other day on Twitter. An important piece of Wakanda is the culture and the costumes that truly are the lifeblood of the country, just as T’Challa is the face.
Enter Ruth E. Carter an iconic and legendary costume designer who has worked on films such as Malcolm X, Selma, Do The Right Thing, and Amistad. Now, Carter can also add Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther to her illustrious credentials.
Carter says that she used the Marvel comics for inspiration for the first dress sketches, but since everyone had their own visions and interpretations for what the characters should wear over the years, she also used her imagination. Carter fused high fashion and African tribal notes to create some looks for the royal family of Wakanda, including Queen Ramonda (portrayed by Angela Bassett) and Princess Shuri (played by Letitia Wright).
Additionally, the Maasai, Himba and other African tribes are well represented. In speaking of the roles that the costumes are playing in the wider conversations around Black Panther, Carter says “This is the new African diaspora…This is the new way of showing that Africa has a voice and it has a culture that’s very relatable. There was a time when no one wanted to relate to Africa, and its beauty was never expressed in a way that was of today and the future. It was always a way to express militancy or protest. And I feel like now it’s a celebration of life and color and culture and artistry.”
Ruth Carter says she would like to be remembered as someone who cared deeply about Black culture and as someone who not only presents Black America in the most authentic way, but presents Blackness in the entirety of its humanity. Judging by her work on the Black Panther set, I would say Carter has no other way but to be remembered.