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‘Black Panther’ costume designer Ruth E. Carter on creating the wardrobe for Wakanda

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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These aren’t your mama’s dashikis.

The colorfully printed garments, which are most commonly worn in and associated with western Africa, have been co-opted as the uniform de rigueur for Hollywood depictions of the entire continent of Africa. “Black Panther,” which hits theaters Feb. 16 and is based on the longstanding Marvel comic book series, takes a much more thoughtful approach to its wardrobe.

Wakanda, the fictional land where “Black Panther” takes place, is located, according to Marvel lore “in equatorial Africa.” Costume designer Ruth E. Carter wanted the film adaptation of the comic book series to reflect the true diversity of Africa. Carter, who earned Oscar nominations as best costume designer for her work on “Malcolm X” (1993) and “Amistad” (1998), also wanted the superhero flick to “respect” and “preserve the culture” of Africa through costume.

Therefore, when creating the costumes for T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the Black Panther, and his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Carter was thoughtful about paying “homage” and respecting the various cultures of the continent.

W talked to Carter about the many worlds of Wakanda and creating costumes that allowed for mobility during action scenes.

espnW: What was your top-line vision for bringing “Black Panther” from beloved comic book series to film?

Ruth E. Carter: Hannah Beachler, the production designer, and the director, Ryan Coogler (“Creed,” 2015), had already come up with what Wakanda would look like. I also reviewed Reginald Hudlin and Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ versions of the comic. I wanted to ensure I was up on legend. It was like cramming for a test. However, the production team had already laid out a nice framework of what Wakanda would look like, so it was easy for me to make some fast decisions.

I had to create looks for each district in the film’s road map. For example, I wanted to incorporate forward-thinking and simple shapes from Japanese designers like Issey Miyake and Mitsuhiro Matsuda in the medical district. Then there was Steptown, a neighborhood in Wakanda, where you’ll see an Afropunk influence. For the business district, you’ll see the more formal suiting, which features African-inspired looks by designers like Ozwald Boateng and Ikiré Jones. There was also the military, royal palace and palace guards — all of those scenes needed to be broken down as well.

Read entire feature at ESPN

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