Black Panther’s Roots Are in Real African Fashion

In 2018, Marvel’s Black Panther became the highest-earning superhero movie in history, earning more than $1 billion within 26 days of release. Set in the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, the film’s costumes inspired as much fandom as many of the characters and fictional conflicts. Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter created Wakandan costumes for male and female characters inspired by historical and contemporary African culture, artisans, and fashion. One of Carter’s greatest challenges was designing costumes for the female warriors, Dora Milaje, who protect King T’Challa (Black Panther). Carter didn’t want to put the warriors in bikinis or skimpy corsets—revealing Western-style outfits common in comic books created for young boys. After researching Africa’s greatest warriors, she created costumes drawing on the red hues of Maasai clothing, bead- work, and metalwork. The final costumes were “feminine, masculine, beautiful and strong—and without showing an inch of skin,” Carter told Washington Post writer Robin Givhan.

The costumes worn by the female warriors, Dora Milaje, of Black Panther were inspired by the red hues, beadwork, and metalwork of Maasai clothing.


clothing and fashion

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