‘Black Panther’ costume designer Ruth E. Carter made history at the Oscars

    American costume designer Ruth E. Carter has made history by becoming the first Black woman to win two Oscars.

    Carter bagged her second accolade at last night’s Academy Awards for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, winning Best Costume Design over Babylon, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. This is her second time winning this Oscar category, with the first recognising her work on the first Black Panther film in 2019.

    In her acceptance speech, Carter spoke of the fictional kingdoms in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and the devotion that went into bringing the world of Wakanda and Talokan to life.

    Angela Bassett in a still from the film.

    Credit: Marvel Studios.

    Tenoch Huerta as Namor.

    Credit: Marvel Studios.

    “I share this with many dedicated artists whose hands and hearts helped manifest the costumes of Wakanda and Talokan. Together we are reshaping how culture is represented,” she said.

    In her speech, the designer also paid tribute to Chadwick Boseman, the titular star of the Black Panther franchise, and her mother who recently passed away.

    “Thank you to the Academy for recognizing the superhero that is a Black woman. She endures, she loves, she overcomes, [and] she is every woman in this film. She is my mother. Chadwick, please take care of mom,” Carter said.

    Several actors dressed in white in the memorial scene from the movie.

    Credit: Marvel Studios.

    Actor Winston Duke as M'Baku in a still from the film.

    Credit: Marvel Studios.

    Actors in a still from the film, dressed in contemporary clothing.

    Credit: Marvel Studios.

    Carter’s costumes in Wakanda Forever are as integral to the film as any other visual facet. With each, the intersection of advanced technology and traditional design is made clear, with the costumes defining the fictional kingdoms as simultaneously breaking conventions and honoring them.

    Many of the costumes had to be moulded to work underwater, as the ancient underwater kingdom of Talocan, resembling the legendary city of Atlantis, was introduced in the film. “I had to remake things that were tested. I had to weigh them down, and sometimes they were too light, other times they were too heavy,” Carter told Variety(Opens in a new tab), saying that Wakanda Forever was one the biggest challenges of her career.

    Character Shuri in a white veil.

    Credit: Marvel Studios.

    The aesthetic featured is also overwhelmingly representative of afrofuturism(Opens in a new tab), a cultural movement that examines the African experience within the genres of science-fiction and fantasy. From the contemporary ensembles worn at the memorial for T’Challa (played by Boseman), to the 3D-printed, ocean-inspired headdresses and mantles(Opens in a new tab), to the unique Black Panther costume taken on by T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) — each look is distinctive(Opens in a new tab) and reflective of the storytelling taking place.

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