We'd like to start off by saying that if you haven't been to see Black Panther, you're irresponsible and you need to get to it immediately! After all the excitement built up from the incredible trailers to the soundtrack, all the hype was worth it, and the movie exceeded expectations.
Black Panther is a celebration of blackness that both powerfully pays homage to African heritage, while showcasing what Africa could be through the highly advanced Wakanda, which is powered by vibranium - an indestructible and very coveted metal mined in never-colonised Afrofuturist Wakanda.
Directed by the talented Ryan Coogler, Black Panther has a powerhouse cast of some of the most talented black actors working today, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya and more.
In the bid to tell Wakanda's story in a powerful way, costume designer Ruth E Carter ensured that the costumes, hair and makeup were designed to create new, sure-to-be iconic looks to inspire viewers and make the movie that much better.
While Wakanda's most valuable resource might be vibranium, we can't ignore that it's home to a bunch of ridiculously well-dressed people. From princess Shuri's new edition Vans to the ornate uniforms of the Dora Milage army, it's clear that Ruth E Carter did her homework and took African fashion to the next level in Black Panther.
Speaking to Vogue about how she brought Wakandan fashion to life, Carter said:
"I selected things from indigenous tribes and implemented them in a futuristic model.
Because the culture that Ryan Coogler created is unique, I could combine elements of many African tribes - including the colour red, the triangle shape, neck rings and beadwork - without worrying about cultural appropriation."
Not only did Carter use actual African designers such as Ozwald Boateng and Ikiré Jones, she and her team drew inspiration from different cultures from all over Africa to present real African superheroes in their traditional element.
We see elements of this throughout the film such as in Queen Ramonda's (Angela Bassett) distinct and elegant head dress. It's reminiscent of the Zulu headdress called 'Izicolo' which is normally worn by married women at ceremonial events. Carter apparently looked to Winnie Mandela when looking for inspiration for Queen Ramonda's wardrobe.
While we're very happy for T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to have been topless throughout the film, we also really loved how good he looked in clothes. When he wasn't fighting topless, he was either in his Black Panther suit (where we could still appreciate his muscle definition) or in an embroidered kaftan.
The embroidered kaftan has recently become a wardrobe staple for men, especially in Nigeria as in previous times, the style was limited to grandiose agbadas. Now, the option to embroider their brocade, ankara or linen fabric is in fashion, which adds a little umph to their wardrobes, much like T'Challa does in the movie.
You must have also noticed the bad ass all-female Dora Milaje army, whose eye-popping garms are enough warning to not mess with them. Their uniforms are reminiscent of the clothes the Massai people of East Africa wear. What really likens Dora Milaje to the Massai people are the distinct red colours, and the spears which they use as weapons.
The Dora Milaje also wear neck rings which the South Ndebele people of Zimbabwe and South Africa wear as part of their traditional dress and as a sign of wealth and status.
Princess Shuri was undoubtedly the star of the show. What more do you need in a film than a genius princess with killer style? Shuri represents the new-age Wakanda, and is dressed as such. Everything she wore was couture and fitting to the futuristic element of the character herself.
Carter used recycled materials to also incorporate a forward-thinking factor and created a theme of structured, lab-friendly whites for Shuri's wardrobe. Her hair was also in braids throughout the film, which like natural afro hair has made a comeback globally.
You'll also notice that there is no lick of relaxed hair throughout the film (all the women we saw were either bald or had afro hair.) Carter wanted to showcase natural African hair, with no Eurocentric influence at all.
Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) was seen wearing her hair in bantu knots which sometimes was shown as a twist-out, Queen Ramonda (Angela Basset) sported grey locs, while Shuri had braids the whole way through.