Hollywood's Most Important Black Costume Designer Finally Gets Her Due
From Roots to Do the Right Thing to Black Panther, Ruth E. Carter's work is legendary.
On Wednesday night, the fashion industry celebrated a living legend: Ruth E. Carter. The costume designer is responsible for some of the most iconic fashion moments of over 40 films, from the flashy suits in the original Super Fly to the glamorous looks in B.A.P.S. to the powerful costumes of Black Panther. The list goes on and on, but IMG's Ivan Bart and Harlem Fashion Row's Brandice Daniel managed to find the perfect way to honor her work, with help from British stylist Ibrahim Kamara.
Next of Kin: An Evening Honoring Ruth E. Carter took place at New York Fashion Week's home base, Spring Studios, and the immersive experience gave attendees an opportunity to see some of Carter's best big-screen moments brought to life. The exhibition included a mixture of mannequins and models wearing reprised looks from Carter's past work, like the sparkly mini dresses from What's Love Got to Do With It and the historic looks from Roots. It was the perfect way to highlight Carter's impact on fashion, film, and culture."New York fashion is all about innovation," Bart exclusively tells InStyle.com. "And I think that all of fashion is inspired from film, so it's really a balance of the two."
Carter echoed his sentiments, elaborating on fashion's ability to intersect with multiple platforms. "I just want people to enjoy the idea that fashion can be a vehicle of expression through politics," Carter says. "It can be a way of looking at the future. It can be a way of honoring the past without being weighed down by it. It can be a celebration. We combined it in ways to make that statement."
Carter's work has been recognized with three Academy Award nominations (for Malcolm X, Amistad, and Black Panther), and at the upcoming ceremony, we just might see her take home the Oscar for Best Costume Design. If she does, she'll definitely be prepared. "Yes, I'm practicing," Carter admits. "I want to be in front of it. I don't want to get up there and say, 'Oh my God. I had no idea.' That would be inauthentic. I've already claimed it in mind. And I'm thinking about what I'm going to say to those who are near and dear to me and helped me along the way. It's only fitting that I do that."