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Black Design Collective Honors Black Panther's Ruth E. Carter

Black Design Collective Honors Black Panther's Ruth E. Carter

A group of fashion luminaries established the Black Design Collective to empower up-and-coming black creatives. Its esteemed founders are fixtures in the fashion world: Angela Dean has created custom looks for stars such as Madonna and Oprah, TJ Walker co-founded trendy streetwear label Cross Colors, and Kevan Hall was the creative director of Halston.

This year, the three took action and addressed the resource gap black designers face in a cutthroat industry, providing mentorship, scholarships and industry workshops. They also aim to raise the profile of often under appreciated historic black fashion figures through the BDC website.

When we think about the great designers that so many people don't know about, like Patrick Kelly and Willi Smith, these people who pushed the door open and broke the glass ceiling—how many people actually know about these designers today? We wanted to have a voice, first, to speak about our accomplishments and our successes, and then, as a second initiative, how can we empower the next generation of designers? So that's how the Black Design Collective was founded.

- Kevan Hall (quote via)

The Collective honored award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter with an inaugural ceremony at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles on April 13. Carter has been a fixture in movie costuming for over 30 years and has worked on 40 movies, lending her creative genius to films such as Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing, The Butler, and Selma. This year, she became the first black woman to win an Academy Award for Costume Design and was granted a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Costume Designers’ Guild.

Ruth Carter’s genius comes from her commitment to cultural authenticity and detail. From her representations of the strength and elegance of black people in the 60s to the bombastic streetwear styles of the 90s, she’s chartered out decades of the beauty of black style through her costuming. Black Panther, the latest in her groundbreaking design portfolio, displays a deep cultural understanding of African fashion perfectly fused with futurist ideas. When creating the costumes, Carter consulted a variety of influences including authentic indigenous designs worldwide and Atlanta’s Afropunk festival.

Left, a Zulu woman in the traditional headdress of a married woman; center, a conceptual costume sketch by Ms. Carter (design) and Ryan Meinerding and his team (concept artists); and right, the headdress as worn by Angela Bassett in  Black Panther . Photos and quote  via .

Left, a Zulu woman in the traditional headdress of a married woman; center, a conceptual costume sketch by Ms. Carter (design) and Ryan Meinerding and his team (concept artists); and right, the headdress as worn by Angela Bassett in Black Panther. Photos and quote via.

Ruth Carter’s vibrant colors, innovative shapes and multitude of historical homages created a distinctive look that allowed Black Panther’s story to be expressed to the fullest. Her attention to regional specificity was a large part of the film’s innovation. Every tribe had fashions modeled off of garb from particular African cultures, rather than a melting pot of homogenized outsider stereotypes. Her long overdue pop culture spotlight has finally given her the industry cache she has deserved for years, and she’s staying true to her mission to raise the profile of all black creatives #fortheculture.


Feature image via. Gallery credits linked on pictures.

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