Ruth Carter x H&M: Trust your voice

We met the Academy Award winning costume designer Ruth Carter for an exclusive interview on her new H&M collaboration — a streetwear collection with bright colours, oversized shapes and bold graphics.

From Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ in 1989 and ‘Malcolm X’ in 1992, right up to Ryan Coogler’s ‘Black Panther’ in 2019, Academy Award winning costume designer Ruth Carter has told stories and made statements through her work. This spring she teams up with H&M to create her first ever fashion line, a women’s streetwear collection full of references to her early career in the ’90s. We caught up with the renowned designer for an exclusive interview.

AS A COSTUME DESIGNER, YOU’VE MASTERED MULTIPLE PERIODS, GENRES, CULTURES AND MORE. BUT HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EVERYDAY STYLE?
“This collaboration with H&M captures one aspect of my daily style on film sets; I need the comfort and versatility of a great sweatshirt or hoodie when I work. The days start really early when it’s usually chilly. Then, as the day wears on and warms up, having the layers underneath — like a favourite T-shirt — is a must. I can take those two basics and dress them up with a cute and comfortable wedge heel or keep it sporty with my favourite kicks. That’s me most days!”

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL FAVOuRITE PROJECT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?
“‘Black Panther’ has become my personal favourite because like some of my other films, like ‘Malcolm X’ and even ‘B.A.P.S.’, it made a huge impact on people of all cultures. It stands out for me for its beauty and attention to detail. It was true worldbuilding.”

This collaboration with H&M captures one aspect of my daily style on movie sets; I need the comfort and versatility of a great sweatshirt or hoodie when I work.


Ruth Carter      

WHEN DID YOU REALISE THE POWER OF FASHION?
“As a relatively poor kid, my mother couldn’t afford to buy me a lot, so I had to create what I wanted. I made all kinds of creative clothing by repurposing the castaways. Then Madonna starred in that movie ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ and I began to express my own look in a similar way: mismatched earrings and scrunched boots with fishnet tights and midriffs. It was cool!”

WHAT IS YOUR CAN’T-LIVE-WITHOUT-ACCESSORY?
“My glasses for one, because life is a blur without them. Also the best shoes to pull my outfit together!”

YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH IN YOUR CAREER ALREADY. WHAT MAJOR GOALS ARE ON YOUR RADAR FOR THE FUTURE?
“I have ‘Coming to America 2’ on the horizon, and a ‘The Art of Ruth E Carter’ coffee table book coming up. I have a travelling exhibition of costumes from my films. And ‘Black Panther 2’ will beginning prep this year.”

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE PIECE FROM THE RUTH CARTER X H&M COLLECTION?
“My favourite piece is the red sweatshirt with my logo on the front. I love the size of the logo because at that scale it turns into graphic shapes, and at the very top you see the word ‘costume’. I imagine those of us who love costumes will be happy — even proud — to wear it!”

 

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