‘Black Panther,’ ‘Selma,’ and ‘Malcolm X’: The Costume Genius of Ruth E. Carter
‘Next of Kin’ at NYFW was not only a retrospective of Ruth E. Carter's career, but also a history of black experience and how that experience has been presented on screen.
Ruth E. Carter, famous as the costume designer of Black Panther, Selma, and Malcolm X, was honored at a special New York Fashion Week event.
A mix of presentation, celebration and exhibition, Next of Kin was not only a retrospective of the costume designer’s storied career but also of the history of the black experience and of how that experience has been incorporated into both fashion and film.
Organized by IMG and Harlem's Fashion Row, Next of Kin was divided into six thematic sections that illuminated how much life Carter has breathed into film characters, with costumes displayed on mannequins styled by her collaborator Ibrahim Kamara.
While Carter was graciously taking selfies with whoever asked, Kamara seamlessly glided through the crowded gallery kindly greeting those in attendance, and giving last looks to his models.
In one section titled “Men In Protest,” Kamara’s models wore ensembles that collaged together costumes from Spike Lee’s films and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In “The Hero” section, alongside mannequins displaying Carter’s costume for Martin Luther King’s character in Selma, a model, stated in the installation’s hand out as a “modern day LGBTQ freedom fighter,” wore a white silk suit with a rainbow printed overcoat.
“Women in Protest” had costumes from 2016 version of Roots and Malcolm X, as well as remade costumes from Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq and Do The Right Thing. “The Fly Guys” section stood in the center of the room where a remade version of the seminal yellow suit complete with gold fish shoes (sporting live goldfish!) from the 1988 film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, served as a centerpiece to the installation.