Ruth E. Carter is reportedly debuting her first fashion line, in partnership with H&M on Thursday, February 13.
In speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy Award-winning costume designer says her designs are an attempt to tell a story through clothing.
“People think that I got into costume design because of fashion, but it was really the vivid stories that I was reading by poets and playwrights that made me want to get into storytelling through costume design,” she told the publication. “Fashion was not on my radar. I was, rather, introduced to fashion through costume design. I started to understand how to use color and fashion and direct it to character.“
Carter says she had to ponder over a partnership with H&M: “I didn’t want to all of a sudden be considered a fashion designer; I still wanted to be a costume designer, inserting myself into the fashion world, so I really had to think about how I wanted to communicate that.”
Ruth Carter became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design last year for her work on Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster film Black Panther. Her new line, titled “Ruthless,” will include 11 pieces, ranging from $12.99 to $39.99. They will, according to Carter, have a ‘90s vibe, particularly reflecting the 1989 film Do the Right Thing, whom Carter worked with Spike Lee on.
“I’ve always been drawn to the Afro future,” Carter said of the inspiration behind the line. “It’s been called different things throughout the years; back in the '90s it was ‘neo-soul’ and there was a lot of interest in colors of the liberation flag (red, black and green) and color-blocking. It’s made a comeback today, which is exciting, because I was always inspired by the messaging that the liberation colors represented — being independent and strong, knowing about the authenticity of your culture.”
She continued: “I am reintroducing the big, strong, saturated liberation colors and the idea of learning to trust my voice as an African American woman who went the distance creatively. I feel very strongly that trusting my voice is what got me to the Dolby stage to win the Oscar.”
Ruth Carter’s work in film spans over 35 years. Aside from Black Panther, she was also nominated for the costume design Oscar for her work in Spike Lee’s 1992 film Malcom X and Stephen Spielberg’s Amistad (1997). Most recently, finished costuming for Craig Brewer's Coming 2 America, which is due to hit theaters in December.
Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for CDGA