Afro-Futurism: Costume Design and Textiles of Black Panther

For me Black Panther was a wonderland of hairstyles, tattoos, makeup, body modification, and costume design. My all-time fave, Okoye’s Red Dress as seen below and in the Casino Fight Scene and later Car Chase scene.

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A Superhero Movie based on a Marvel Comic character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Black Panther himself is a Black superhero who first appeared in a Fantastic Four series in 1966. His first featured comic was in 1973, in a series called Jungle Action written by Don MacGregor.

Now a major motion picture, it is the top grossing superhero film of all time, grossing over $1 billion sales, surpassing Iron Man.

Aside from Blade (if you can count that) and Barack Obama (an IRL superhero), Black Panther is the first major blockbuster superhero film of this caliber in U.S. History that features a Black superhero and predominantly Black cast and crew.

It has also sparked an era called Afro-Futurism which includes both a movement of sorts as well as a fashion trend. A mix of old and new, tradition and technology. A representation of modern African Culture and possibly an allegory for today seen in all cultures.

Below is Costume Illustration by Phillip Boutte Jr. and Concept Art by Adi Granov, Keith Christensen

Shuri Closeup by Phillip Boutte Jr. XXX Zuri by Phillip Boutte Jr.

The modern yet traditional silhouette on Queen Ramonda.
The 3/4-length jackets with mandarin collar and shogun pants on T’Challa
The purple and the draping on Zuri with the ashy face paint.
The feather earrings, high collars, pops of color. The anime-style futuristic concepts for Shuri.

XXX Shuri Closeup by Phillip Boutte Jr. Shuri Closeup by Phillip Boutte Jr.

Basotho
Shuri, Nakia, Queen Ramonda, Everett

Above the Basotho Heritage Blankets worn by the Sotho people of Lesotho are just some examples. Also, the white dreads on Angela Bassett need a mention. 😍

After Asia, Africa is the second largest continent in both population and landmass. According to the United Nations, there are 54 countries in Africa. My Lyft driver from Burkina Faso told me there are thousands of languages spoken on the African Continent. Distinct languages, not dialects. Each with their respective cultures and traditions.

Here are just few.

Mining Tribe
Mining Tribe, Red

One of the most recognizable is the Masai and its vibrant red textiles.
Red Shuka Cloth and Traditional Headdress. Masai Tribe, Kenya.
Intricate Beaded Collars. Samburu Tribe, Kenya.
Red Clay Braids. Himba Tribe, Namibia.

River Tribe
River Tribe, Green, Nakia

Lip Plates and Face Paint of the Surma and Mursi Tribes of Ethiopa.
Embroidery and Beading reminiscent of many cultures in Africa like the Samburu of Kenya.

Border Tribe
Border Tribe, Blue, W’Kabi

The geometric prints of the Basotho Heritage Blankets worn by the Sotho people of Lesotho.

Zuri
Zuri, seen here, in purple.
The draping and beading inspired by the Wodaabe of Nigeria.

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Jabari Tribe, M’baku

Zulu Warrior of South Africa inspired Jabari Tribe.
White Body Paint and Animal Masks reminiscent of the Asaro Mudmen of Papua New Guinea.
Love the Conan the Barbarian-esque style.

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Okoye and the Dora Milaje in Masai Red and Gold and intricate beading.
Neck Rings inspired by the Ndebele Tribe of South Africa
Head Tattoos

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Black Panther (T’Challa) and Killmonger, Warrior Falls Challenge.
Killmonger seen with traditional scarification. Sometimes meant to resemble Crocodile skin, for beauty, or for symbolism.

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Black Panther (T’Challa), Palace.

The embroidery on T’Challa. In the background, Queen Ramonda in headdress inspired by the Traditional Woven Headdress of the Zulu, South Africa
Ankara Head Wraps, think Coming to America, of the Igbo, Nigeria.

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Erik Killmonger (N’Jadaka) and his Sideswept Dreadlocks!

Killmonger Shawl Collar
Killmonger’s wide neck t-shirts, wool cardigans with shawl collar!

Killmonger Museum
Look at his little ponytail. It’s so cute.

With over $700 million in box office sales in the first 2 opening weekends, Marvel’s latest superhero film, Black Panther, is breaking records and making history.

Here are a few of the most notable. Many of the listed are the best of the best in their respective industries. And almost every one of them is African-American or of African descent. As ludicrous as it may sound, it is one of the first blockbuster films by a major motion picture company with a majority Black cast and crew! I remember thinking to myself is that true? It can’t be. It’s 2018. While this may seem incredulous, it is true. And it’s a Marvel superhero film no less!

Directed by Ryan Coogler
Screenplay written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
Costume Design by Ruth E. Carter
Costume Concept Illustrator Phillip Boutte, Jr.
Hair Camille Friend
Jewelry Douriean Fletcher
Production Designer Hannah Beachler
Soundtrack Kendrick Lamar
Makeup Joel Harlow of MorphologyFX

My Review ~~~ SPOILERS AHEAD! ~~~~
Loved the comic relief from the Jabari Tribe’s king, Mbaku. Black Panther’s little sister, Shuri and her smart-talking techie ways akin to James Bond’s Q. T’Challa and Shuri’s witty repartee was endearing. Nakia’s strong social conscience and stubborn ways. Okoye’s quiet strength. Queen Ramonda strong and proud. And Black Panther himself who’s character depicted a man growing into a leader.

I’m a tough critic. Plus, I am no superfan of superhero movies. Although, I did love Deadpool because it was just a funny, snarky, entertaining action film. And like Ryan Reynolds (sue me!). Nor do I like Disney (or Pixar! *dodges tomatoes*). Despite its best of intentions I’m sure, I’ve always felt Disney had a history of whitewashing its films. Mulan is an example. Subtle bends in culture and perception like that in mainstream media are what perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes IMHO.

So I was weary. But this time around I felt the most important thing was that Disney and Marvel felt this was relevant and important to bring.

It’s a little violent for my tastes. Some of the movie was too dark. Especially the big fight scenes like in the Casino, the car chase, and in the train tracks.

Also shoutout to Twitter’s Black Panther hashtag icon! Too cute! #WakandaForever

Fave Character – Okoye
Fave Line – “Show him who you really are!! –Ramonda
Fave Fight Scene – Anything with Okoye
Fave Male Character – Mbaku
Fave Song – All The Stars by Kendrick and SZA
Best Hair – Angela Bassett and Michael B Jordan. Mbaku’s Fade.

Below are my related posts on African Print Fabrics:
Defined by vibrant colors, patterns, woven textiles, intricate beading, embroidery, and draping, traditional African designs have a distinctive character.

I’ve always been into prints and textiles, especially traditional cultural designs and techniques. e.g. African Print Textiles like the vibrant geometric Kente Cloth with symbolic colors. As well as cultural garb as represented by the tribes of the Wakandan Kingdom.

Dreamland: Forgotten Fashion Of Far Off Cultures

Gwen Stefani Spring/Summer 2011

OMG! Heart goes to BRIC House

FOTD: African Print Fabrics

PIP: African Print Shorts

The kingdom has come. Get your tickets to #BlackPanther NOW: [link in bio]

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