Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

The date is February 25th, 2021, and what a historic day it is! It’s officially Ruth E. Carter day in Hollywood! Today, Ruth E. Carter will become the first Black costume designer to receive a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, only the second costume designer to be honored with a star following Edith Head, who was honored in 1960 at the origin of this iconic landscape.

“A career spanning more than three decades in theater, cinema, and television, Carter’s depth of artistry flowing together with her creative instincts, passion for culture and history, empathy for people, enormous capacity for research, eye for detail, and ability to deliver the director’s vision while infusing her art makes her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers in the world”

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Though the ceremony was virtual, it was still a fabulous event featuring iconic guest speakers and previous collaborators of Ruth’s, Oprah Winfrey, and Eddie Murphy. We even got to see the making of Ruth’s star! I honestly can’t think of anyone more deserving of this incredible honor. Ruth E. Carter is an icon, a mentor, and most of all, a trailblazer who serves as an inspiration not only to costume designers but all creatives hoping to build a life around their creative passions. I feel like I am speaking for everyone when I say Ruth is simply just, the greatest of all time.

“She opened a lot of doors for us. I’ve seen more people requesting Black designers this year — due to her win, but also partially due to the social climate. Even me being considered [for awards] right now is due to her winning and laying this groundwork.”

Costume designer, Charlese Antoinette Jones – VARIETY.com

“People ask me how did I get RUTH CARTER to be my first guest on my Instagram Live show…. I tell them, I just asked! Without hesitation, Ruth said, “I’m in, let’s do this!” To me, that is Ruth. Authentic, real, and giving to the core. I am so honored to call this star my peer, and more importantly my friend.”

Costume Designer & Host of CONVOS WITH COSTUME DESIGNERS, Mandi Line

While this is all so exciting, the celebration doesn’t stop there! If you thought securing a spot on the historic, Hollywood Walk of Fame, or winning an Oscar was enough, you are so wrong! I am excited to share with you all an exciting exhibition that you can all safely visit in Atlanta, Georgia. This Winter, The Savannah College of Art and Design’s SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film opened the monumental exhibition Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

Black Panther – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

Within this exhibition, you will be in the presence of costumes from generation-defining films such as Selma, Do the Right Thing, and Black Panther. Nearly four decades of Ruth’s work is currently on display! In addition to Carter’s costumes for stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington, “the exhibition also features garments worn by luminaries” such as Angela Bassett, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, Rosie Perez, Forest Whitaker, and of course, the late Chadwick Boseman, “demonstrating the varied work her career brings to the screen.”

“The award-winning museum will showcase more than 60 costumes by Carter, as well as sketches and ephemera illustrating the designer’s in-depth historical research and creative process for each project. Carter is an expert storyteller who harnesses the power of visual communication to share vital narratives exploring culture, race, and politics.

SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film
Malcom X – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

The Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is so expertly curated. Honestly, when I first saw the exhibition,  I felt as though my heart stopped for a second. The pure excellence, vibrancy, and emotional power of Ruth’s work, in combination with the beautiful displays of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, is overwhelming in all of the right ways.

“The exhibition was created in that spirit of love of self and it serves to empower anyone with an inner creative with a passion to nurture their own voice, like I did, and are determined to share their story through their art. I want to inspire a new generation, who are already expressing the need to project a profound personal connection of diversity in storytelling and to do it authentically in a way that connects with their creative self. I want to encourage them to trust their voice and embody their Afrofuture no matter who they are or where they come from.”

Ruth E. Carter
Roots – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is co-curated by Rafael Gomes, director of fashion exhibitions, and Christina Frank, assistant director of fashion exhibitions, in collaboration with guest curator Julia Long. The exhibition is open now until Sept. 12, 2021. For ticketing and more information on the exhibition and SCAD FASH, please visit scadfash.org. 

On behalf of The Art of Costume Team, I would like to congratulate Ruth once again on these incredible achievements and I look forward to many more years of your groundbreaking, innovative work. All hail the queen!


“When I was working on the many Spike Lee films, I got the nickname ‘Ruthless’ by fellow crew members who would say, ‘Hey Ruthless!’ I knew it was because I worked so hard behind the scenes, designing the many looks, gathering materials, and getting hundreds of actors in costume, connecting actor to character through fashion. I’m grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with SCAD FASH in bringing my collection together to share my career experience with everyone.”

RUTH. E CARTER

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is open until Sept. 12, 2021

For ticketing and more information on SCAD FASH, please visit scadfash.org. 

Works Cited:

Howard, Nandi. “Ruth E. Carter Will Become The First Black Costume Designer To Receive Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame.” Essence, Essence, 22 Feb. 2021, http://www.essence.com/fashion/ruth-e-carter-to-receive-star-on-hollywood-walk-of-fame/.

“Ruth E. Carter.” Hollywood Walk of Fame, 24 Feb. 2021, walkoffame.com/ruthecarter/.

“’Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design’.” SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, 25 Nov. 2020, http://www.scadfash.org/exhibitions/ruth-e-carter-afrofuturism-costume-design.

Tangcay, Jazz. “Ruth E. Carter Makes History With a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Variety, Variety, 24 Feb. 2021, variety.com/2021/artisans/awards/ruth-carter-walk-of-fame-1234913760/.

One thought on “Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

  1. I want to thank the College for honoring this remarkable legend Ruth E. Carter in this BEAUTIFUL exhibit. Bravo 👏🏾 …I have known her for many years and I am so proud of all she have achieved in her career … with the help of skillful Craft People Asst, Designers, Costumers we all salute her.
    Fashion/Costume Designer/Instructor
    Darlene Jackson

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