Oscar Nominated Black Panther: 5 Iconic Looks From A Woman Designed To Empower The Diaspora Ruth E. Carter's Looks & Purpose Behind Them

Apart from Marvel’s Black Panther making history as the first-EVER superhero film nominated for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards (the Oscars), can it be nominated for best fashion’s ever (cough, cough– CFDA or any official fashion body, let’s get on this please)

So what’s a blockbuster hit movie without culturally-infused fashion? How about deeply rooted afro-futurism fashion ,  a media platform promoting African lifestyle brands and design and portrayal of non-monolithic black beauty? Enters: Black Panther.

While the history-making movie “Black Panther” has something in it for everyone: action, adventure, technology, comedy and even a bit of romance; it’s the sartorial direction and social stance taken by costume designer Ruth E. Carter that truly brings this fictional world to life.

Celebrating Wakanda with Ikire Jones! #costumedesignerblackpantherfilm #blackpanthernyfw

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From her Instagram, she is undoubtedly a beautiful artist and also decrees being a lover and a friend.

The world also knows that Ms. Carter is an award-winning costume designer with 30 years of experience. With all of that experience, she was very careful in crafting the iconic looks we see gracing the big screens today.

As she previously mentioned, her sartorial vision for this movie was: beautiful, positive, forward and colorful. Drawing inspiration from both traditional and contemporary African wear, coupled with afro-future imagery, Carter was able to achieve the potent balance of regality and power of the Wakandian people, without being too futuristic in the cliche sense.

Having worked with promoting Africa’s aesthetic and talents in New York since 2009, both the marketing/media team  and retail team, found it powerful that she used her platform to source fashion from around the world (Africa, India, and South Korea), to nod to Africa’s traditional looks,  as well as showcase modern day Africa’s aesthetic. – Adiat Disu, Founder of ecommerce platform Adiree.com and consumer marketing platform  Africa Fashion Week

After much discussion, Styliy was also able to narrow down the top 5 iconic looks in “Black Panther,” and the cultural significance of each – which was no easy feat:

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5. The Dora Milaje Uniform

This team of highly skilled warriors carried Wakanda on their backs, and looked great doing it! They were sexy, without too much sex appeal. Fusing mythology with ancestral royalty and imagery of the Maasai Tribe of Kenya as inspiration, Carter was able to give us a look that would make any woman want to roll out of bed in the morning and put on Dora Milaje armor to face the day. Even the accessories exuded ornate style associated with royalty. Carter purposely gave the general Gold accessories to stand out from the rest of the warriors who wore silver. Clearly, there was thought in every single detail of these looks. 


4. Nakia’s Green Dress



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This particular green dress from Black Panther is reminiscent of something TLC would wear to perform at an award show. But in this case, it’s the beautifully patterned bait that Nakia would wear to take down the American men. Made for movement, this double-slit full length was one of Nakia’s best outfits in her carousel of signature green pieces she wore throughout the movie. 

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3. Princess Shuri’s White Dress


In Black Panther Princess Shuri had as many iconic scenes as she did wardrobe changes in this movie. The classy, intelligent, humorous teenager stole hearts and scenes with her stylish dresses and colorful kicks. This white dress and up styled braids gave Shuri a bit of maturity while she worked in her lab – helping her brother save Wakanda and what not. 


2. King T’Challa’s Black Dashiki


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Black Panther ‘s T’Challa, T’Challa. The King was most regal when adorning traditional African wear, this black dashiki was no exception. According to Carter in Vanity Fair, all of T’Challa’s wardrobe was specially tailored with impeccable fabric and detailed embroidery. Although he looked great in a good suit when outside of Wakanda, when one thinks of an African King, this is the image one should always have of him in a fictional and real world going forward. No colonial influence. 


1. General Okoye’s Red Gown



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If there is one look from Black Panther, that fans would have stained in their minds for a long time, it is Okoye kicking butt in a beautiful red gown that floats around her. This impressive look was the highlight of that fight scene as Okoye metaphorically cast aside the chains of societal oppression in the form of her wig, and challenges the gender stereotypes often formed about women in dresses – as you can see, they can fight in anything! 

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