Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter has brought her signature looks from the silver screen to the retail world.
The line, titled “Ruthless,” is developed in partnership with H&M. It wasn’t an easy decision for Carter, who was the first Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on Black Panther. She told The Hollywood Reporter that she didn’t want to be regarded as a fashion designer, but as a costume designer coming into the fashion world. The biggest challenge facing her would be how to communicate that through her clothes. She explained,
“People think that I got into costume design because of fashion, but it was really the vivid stories that I was reading by poets and playwrights that made me want to get into storytelling through costume design.”
“Fashion was not on my radar. I was, rather, introduced to fashion through costume design. I started to understand how to use color and fashion and direct it to character.”
The collection is made up of 11 pieces, each reminiscent of the 90’s stylistically and inspired by 1989 film Do the Right Thing, which Carter worked on with director Spike Lee. She described her vision as including “big, strong, saturated liberation colors” and a theme that promotes cultural pride, individuality and sense of self.
“I’ve always been drawn to the Afro future. It’s been called different things throughout the years; back in the ’90s it was ‘neo-soul’ and there was a lot of interest in colors of the liberation flag (red, black and green) and color-blocking. It’s made a comeback today, which is exciting, because I was always inspired by the messaging that the liberation colors represented — being independent and strong, knowing about the authenticity of your culture.”
Carter also revealed that the title of the fashion line is derived from her on-set nickname – “Ruthless.” “
It’s a double entendre; I’ve always wanted to turn that around and say, ‘Yeah, that’s right!’ It’s kind of giving you a charge to be ruthless and just go for it!”
Carter’s work has graced the screens of various Hollywood films for more than 35 years. She’s received Oscar nominations for costume design in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Stephen Spielberg’s Amistad. Carter also recently completed costuming for the upcoming film Coming 2 America.
It’s significant that Carter’s unique vision will be accessible to the general public for the first time. More people should be aware of her work and numerous contributions to film. Moreover, there is a need for more Black voices in fashion, as well as advocates of diversity within the industry. Hopefully, Carter’s “Ruthless” attitude will be an inspiration for other Black female designers to follow suit and realize that they too have a place in the fashion world.
Check out her line above.
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Ashley is a Blerd and pop culture glutton with a penchant for video games. She is a freelance writer, whose articles have appeared in Black Girl Nerds and Screen Rant. Life is happiest for her when she’s able to indulge in her childhood hobby, by putting pen to page.