Costumes From Renowned Hollywood Designer, Including 'Black Panther,' Are Coming To Pittsburgh

Mar 21, 2018

The work of Hollywood costume designer Ruth E. Carter is coming to Pittsburgh, including the futuristic African designs featured in the blockbuster film, "Black Panther."

The exhibit, “Heroes & Sheroes: A Ruth E. Carter Costume Retrospective,” will showcase some of the works designed over Carter's 30-year career, including dresses, jackets and suits from the movies “Selma,” “Amistad,” “Marshall,” “Malcolm X,” “The Butler,” and “Do The Right Thing,” as well as the television miniseries, “ROOTS.”

It runs from August to November at the Heinz History Center in partnership with FashionAFRICANA, an African inspired fashion and arts organization in Pittsburgh.

“When it comes to African Americans and people of color within the arts, there is not a lot of recognition that is out there," said Demeatria Boccella, FashionAFRICANA co-founder. "I envision FashionAFRICANA as a platform to recognize and celebrate the beautiful work of these extraordinary individuals.”

Pittsburgh is the first stop for the international exhibition, which currently has stints booked in Chicago, New York, L.A., Paris and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Prior to designing for Wakanda, Carter worked on three films by director Spike Lee, including "Do The Right Thing" with late Pittsburgh actor Bill Nunn. She brought to life the iconic LOVE/HATE rings that Nunn’s character Radio Raheem wore in the movie.

“Those four finger rings were very popular during that time, and I had tried several ways to get them made. I was trying to make them out of everything you can think of, wood and spray paint them gold. And Bill was very unapologetic," Carter recalled. "He was very unfiltered at times and he was like, ‘Those rings are whack,’ and I needed to hear that.”

On Nunn’s suggestion, Carter took her designs to a New York jeweler and got the rings made. The rings became an important part of the film, which dealt with race and socio-economic hardship.