Symbolic African costumes designed for Black Panther

Costume designer Ruth E. Carter is the mastermind behind all the African costumes worn in the Marvel movie Black Panther. This genius designer was inspired by various African tribes and the symbolic triangle, as she explains it. “There is a huge misunderstanding about what Africa is”, she says. “Most people think it’s just one big thing”. 

But the truth is: “If you’re in East Africa, West Africa, South Africa, North Africa, they’re all very different”, she continues. Each character or group of characters in the movie wears costumes inspired by a different tribe. For instance, the costumes of Lupita Nyong’o, who plays the role of Nakia, involve a lot of green and are inspired by the Suri tribe. The Dora Milaje characters (the female warriors) are wearing red costumes inspired by the Turkana tribe and the costume of the Queen Mother, Ramonda, played by Angela Basset, is inspired by the South African Zulu tribe. Also Danai Guirera, who plays Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje, wears a lot of neck rings which were an inspiration from the South African Ndebele tribe. The costumes involve sacred geometry and to me are therefore portrayed as very believable.

All of this is explained by the costume designer herself in a chat she had with Racked in this video:

The video was brought to my attention just a few days before watching Black Panther two weeks ago and it got me all hyped up and excited for the movie. Honestly, seeing all the characters in action in the movie, dressed in these awesome African inspired costumes, is even more exciting than in this short video. My top favorites were the white costume of the Queen Mother, Ramonda, the warrior costume of the Dora Milaje General, Okoye and the costume of the Great Gorilla, M’Baku. More about my favorites will follow in another post soon.

Marvel’s Black Panther is worth seeing in the cinemas, even if it was for the costumes only. Already I’ve seen it twice and these costumes had me amazed each time. They always will.

Next up I will share what I wore both times to go see the movie.


XX Fashion Diva

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