The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther
Some fortuitous few are frequently described as having “A Year,” and in 2023 Ruth Carter is absolutely having hers, though it’s hardly just luck. This March she won the Academy Award for Fashion Design and became the first Black woman to receive multiple Oscars. On April 1, the North Carolina Museum of Art presented Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design, showcasing over 60 garments she’s made for television and cinema over 30-odd years, and on May 23, Chronicle Books released The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther.
Leaf through this gorgeous book and yes, marvel over the breadth of her work, which includes the looks she created for those films as well as the glorious garb in Coming to America, the upbeat collegiate gear in School Daze, and the conservative neutrals imbuing the doc style of Malcolm X. Filled with “backstage” stories, vibrant images, sketches, and mood boards, the book portrays her depth of research, beautifully illustrating Carter’s belief in the power of clothing design, “a vision of someone who we see, the representative of you. And that’s where fashion stops and costume begins because we create a mood for ourselves, a voice that we want to project to the world without us saying a word.” —Gwynned Vitello
Chronicle Books, chroniclebooks.com