24 Unforgettable On-Screen Looks from Celeb Costume Designer Ruth Carter

From Selma to Malcolm X, celebrity costume designer and ESSENCE's Black Women in Hollywood honoree Ruth Carter has been creating masterpieces for over 25 years. This Academy Award nominee has set herself apart in a uniquely niche industry and has amazed on every set. From the big screen to the small screen, take a look at her best work yet.

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From Selma to Malcolm X, Costume Designer, Ruth Carter has been creating masterpieces for over 25 years.  This Academy Award nominee has set herself apart in a uniquely niche industry and has amazed on every set. From the big screen to the small screen, take a look at her best work yet. 

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Inspired by dresses that The Supremes wore, Carter created coordinated baby-doll dresses.  With a mixture of vintage pieces, fish-scale beading and more, the costume designer recreated looks that matched Donyale Luna, a model big in the 60's.

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Although Sparkle was technically a movie and not a TV show, it deserves an honorable mention. Akil wrote the screenplay for the 2012 musical drama that would feature Whitney Houston in her last acting role. Jordin Sparks and Derek Luke also starred in the movie, and Akil’s husband Salim Akil directed it.

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In an all red gown, this prestigious designer dressed the actress, Jordan Sparks in a beaded and plunge neckline gown. 

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With very little time to put costumes together, Ruth Carter still managed to create unforgettable looks. This mod textured orange dress that Oprah wore featured dramatic sleeves and a signature retro bow at the top of the frock. 

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With no shortage of floral, the designer kept this scene steamy with a sensual orange and gray silk dress that flattered the actresses curves and bust.

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When dressing the people of Selma, Carter admits that "These were the most intimidating characters to dress." but she nailed the look to a T. From muted trench coats to plaid dresses, the designer dressed the crowd in muted down-to-earth layering.  

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Portrayed practically identically, Carter, recreated a memorable moment of Dr. King marching with Corretta.  The designer dressed the actor in a more casual look to portray the humble and everyday man Dr. King was while Mrs. King was head to toe in a gray suit matched with a pair with cat-eye shades. 

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From silk to lace, Ruth Carter portrayed these young actresses in their Sunday's best.  In order for  her to fully encompass the era of the 60s, the costume designer made sure to add matching plaid, floral and pastel detailing to each look. The beaded gloves, floral wreathes and small clutches personified perfectly the innocence of the young girls right before the catastrophic bombing. 

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Carter dressed protesters in layered trench coats to portray how marchers protected themselves before police brutality would take place.  The juxtaposition between the dark brown of the police attire, with the softer colors protestors wore, easily conveyed who were peaceful and who were hostile. 

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In a newly released Spike Lee film, Oscar nominee Ruth Carter delivers stylishly sleek and striking costumes that will surely take this provocative film to the next level.

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Best known for her costume design role in Malcolm X, Ruth E Carter was nominated for an Academy Award.  From the infamous glasses to the dark suits, the designer visually encompassed the very essence of Malcolm X.

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This action film follows the lives of four brothers who come back home to avenge their adoptive mother’s death.  Ruth is very meticulous in conveying the brother's bond with similar attire but giving each of characters a distinct uniqueness about them.  Tyrese Gibson and Mark Wahlberg are the violent "doers" of the family and this costume designer shows that with tough dark leather jackets.  Andre 3000's role is the thinker of the family, so his attire is more practical and aware of the cold temperatures of Detroit.  The youngest brother, played by Garrett Hedlund is arrayed in adolescent prints to portray his immaturity to handle the violence that takes place. 

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Ruth Carter pulled out all the right stops for the hit TV show Being Mary Jane.  Mary Jane, a TV anchor by day but also a single woman searching for love, Carter captures the exact essence of the popular job.  For her on-camera TV anchor role, Mary wears sleeveless dress that can be paired with a power blazer for work but taken off to grab dinner or go on a date. Behind the desk, the costume designer keens in on her upper body and what makes Mary, or should we say Gabrielle Union looks magnificent. 

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The director, Mara Brock AKil, who also directed the hit show Girlfriends, wanted to bring a fashion forward theme to the set and Ruth did just that.  Dressing Mary Jane in designers such as Prada to this Michael Kors frock, Carter wanted to tell a story that viewers would enjoy and share socially. 

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In this comedy-drama, the film follows bicycle mechanic Joseph, which most of us know best as Jody, as he lives his life in the hood of Los Angels. Costume Designer, Ruth Carter kept true to the environment and surroundings of the film by displaying main actor Tyrese in typical mechanic pants and a white beater and ex-con Snoop Dog in plaid button up and chuck tailors.

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Love & Basketball filmed the story of two neighbors, who while pursing their basketball careers fell head over heels for each other. Carter was able to still capture the toughness and masculinity of the basketball players by using oversized jerseys while still seizing the sensuality between their relationship by incorporating feminine sports-bras and arm baring tanks. 

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From dreaming in the suburbs to living in Beverly Hills, Ruth Carter gave the stars, Halle Berry and Martin Landau, a look that said I'm "livin' large and takin' charge!"  From bright printed booty hugging wardrobes, to platforms out of this world, this designer kept the scenes full of eye popping colors and larger than life ensembles to match the over-the-top Hollywood lifestyle.

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Crooklyn was filled with colorful characters and children playing a huge role in the film.  To match the diverse and colorful personalities, Ruth Carter included an array of vibrant colors.  From blues to reds, and from greens to yellows, carter brought an array of rich hues on set. 

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Loosely based off of Tina Turners life, What's Love Got To Do With It, was an "amazing experience," Ruth Carter explains.  Creating remakes of original Tina Turner pieces were on point and very put together.  Tina Turner's iconic red dress that she wore in the early 80s, which was dripping in fringe and sparkles, was one of the most memorable remakes on the film.

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Still mad about Angela Bassett's Oscar snub, tbh. 

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Jungle Fever is a romance film that was produced by Spike Lee.  The film takes place in the urban streets of NYC in the 90s. Denim jackets and varsity bombers were huge in this era and this Academy Award nominee made sure to recreate the very essence of that time period. 

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Mo' Better Blues followed a period in the life of a fictional Jazz player.  After discussing with the producer, Spike Lee, Carter put together ensembles that resembled jazz players in the 50s but with designer style.  Ruth Carter pulled designers like Giorgio Armani, Versace & Valentino to match the look and feel that Spike Lee desired. 

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The comedic parody I'm Gonna Git You Sucka showed some awesome 70s gear.  From dramatic bellbottoms, to 70s inspired leather jackets, to plastic platforms, Ruth decked out the characters in larger than life, theatrical attire that was superbly parallel with the script. 

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In a film about sorority and fraternity members disputing at an HBCU homecoming, it's understandable why Ruth chose trendy matching outfits.  Keeping in the spirit of traditional fraternity and sorority gear, Carter made sure to create memorable attire that could be associated with each group as well as putting a staple letter on each ensemble.