Accompanying Solange Knowles’ highly anticipated album When I Get Home, was an unexpected short film full of visual glee. Days before the album released several visuals of the film were teased on Solange’s Black Planet page. Talk about throwback!
Behind the incomparable force that is Solange is a group of innovative creatives assisting to bring her vision to fruition – one of them being stylist Mecca James-Williams. The Virginia native and New York-based stylist made her way to Houston to style the When I Get Home film, which she refers to as a moment she “manifested.” She followed Solange’s direction and traveled throughout Houston with market editor Chela Mitchell to source the costumes seen throughout the film.
James-Williams was joined by a few other stylists in Texas to work on the visuals that ultimately shook the internet. Along with stylists Kyle Luu and Jessica Willis as well as their teams, the creatives implemented Solange’s vision in each of their assignments.
Captivating still shots and short clips from the film quickly surfaced the internet. An image of a woman pole dancing caused a lot of buzz, and the reoccurring clip of Black women in blonde wigs wearing all brown ensembles joyously bopping to the music flooded social media timelines – visuals James-Williams helped bring to life. Houston culture was highlighted through fashion with cowboy boots, western hats, and black suits which were the result of Solange’s creative direction and James-Williams’ exploration of Texas.
ESSENCE spoke to James-Williams after the release of the When I Get Home film. Here’s what she had to say about her experience.
Have you watched the entire film? What are your thoughts of the project?
I have watched the entire film. Solange really is a force. Just to be a little piece of the puzzle was amazing because that was my first film project I’ve done. There is so much of it that I didn’t work on that so many other amazing black people that she tapped into. It was a collective and looking at the film, you could feel the energy of it being from a huge community. There were so many different people from Houston that were there. She literally tapped into a whole community of artists and to see it come together and to see the melting pot of so many different people from so many different entities from the animation was great.
How did this connection get started between you and Solange?
It was a manifestation. It was the universe connecting us. I thought that was planned for me, but when it comes to just how her team reached out to me, they emailed me. They emailed me a week before I had to fly out with me, an assistant, and then another style team.
Have you been to Texas before?
That was my first time. We traveled from Houston, Dallas, Marfa, and El Paso so it’s so ‘bread and butter’ Texas, and that was my first time being there. My first time being able to see real Black cowboys, my first time just being able to see [the South] – I am from Virginia and that is the South, but Texas is another ballgame. And she captured that so well. Texas has so much to offer and there’s so much culture there. I was in awe of the architecture, the culture, and their Mexican influence.
Did you listen to the album before everyone else?
No, I found out everything in the same time as everyone else. But I did hear a few songs on set. ‘Almeda’ is such a beautiful song that we would hear on set and at the end of it we were just reciting it: ‘Brown liquor, brown liquor.’ It’s so catchy. Every time I hear it I have visuals in my head of being there in Marfa, Texas, singing ‘brown liquor, brown sugar, brown face, black sin;’ it’s beautiful. It’s black. It’s so black.
What was the vibe like on set with Solange and all of the creatives together?
Being amongst choreographers, hair stylists, various stylist, and different people; there was so much energy. There were just so many people excited to be a part of this project. Everyone knew it would be monumental and everyone worked so hard to be a part of it in that way because [Solange] is such a beautiful force. She’s so creative. She’s such an artist. Solange pulls the best out of people; she pulls the work ethic out of people.
Is there a moment that you will cherish the most from this project?
We needed 100 suits. We needed a 100 cowboy boots. So my assistant Chela and I get in the car, we’re blasting music and we went to every single vintage store in Houston sourcing cowboy boots. I spray painted all those shoes. All of the chocolate shoes in the chocolate scenes were spray painted brown. It was very creative and on the fly which was the best part about it. Like the experience, I can’t even describe.