Is there anyone that exudes Black royalty more than Ruth E. Carter? We’ll help you out with the answer: the list is very short.
The gifted Hollywood seamstress recently sat down with Yes, Girl co-hosts Cori Murray and Charli Penn after linking up with Crown Royal for the forthcoming Coming 2 America sequel to create a limited-edition Crown Royal x Coming 2 America pack for the whisky brand.
“Crown Royal has a long legacy of royalty,” she told Yes, Girl. “The original Crown Royal blended Canadian whiskey was given as a gift to royalty. So with their long history of royalty, Coming 2 America was the perfect mix of metaphors. It’s showing royalty, it’s showing gift giving, it’s showing all kinds of ways that we can experience Coming 2 America, because you know we’d like to dress up to go see that film, and now we’re not dressing up so much. So we can share it with the Crown Royal.”
The iconic costume designer revamped the whisky’s signature bag with a unique purple and gold stitched jaguar. “The design is wrapped up into the imagery that you see in the film,” she says. “The lion on the shoulder, and the embroidery print is all in the film. It really is a part of the experience.”
Carter comes with a long list of receipts, so it’s no surprise that she was the top choice to revamp the brand’s signature design. Who better than the woman who won an Academy Award in 2019 for The Best Costume Design for her Black Panther creations?
The sequel to one of the year’s most anticipated films tells the story of Akeem returning to America when he learns of a long-lost son and unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. Carter, who is no stranger to African kingdoms — first Wakanda and now Zamunda — has reimagined the film decades later, paying homage to the Motherhood, of course, in unique and beautiful ways. “I wanted to keep the beautiful sashes, the formality of the tuxedo tails and the beautiful African Ankara fabrics,” she says.
She continues, “It’s 30 years old, so when you look back at it, you remember where we were then, and where we are now, and we’re so much more advanced in our knowledge of the African diaspora, so I wanted to bring a new understanding to the film, Coming 2 America.”
And for fans of both Black Panther and Coming 2 America, a burning question may be “how did Ruth plan to tackle this film coming off of coming to America?” Her answer is simple: “I didn’t want to use too much Ankara fabric in Black Panther.”
She elaborates that framing of both films had a lot to do with the decision (especially when most people associate Ankara with African fashion. “We were developed in a place that was before colonization, and so it was important to examine those things that were considered colonized things,” she says. “Ankara fabric is done by the Dutch, and China. If Wakanda is the military center of Africa, where they are leading in technology and they are a little more serious, then Zamunda is the fashion hub. It’s the place where you can have fun, and it’s big and it’s light. It’s big in a different way, because it’s all about what you’re wearing.”
And as one of the most sought out Hollywood designers, what could possibly be next for Ms. Carter? “It’s only now that I’ve only begun to make those intentional choices, because I have done so much,” she says. “I still have a passion for small films. I just did an independent film with a young filmmaker who is still trying to raise money to edit his film… I feel like I can give a story like that. I just look for stories that move me. Black Panther moved me. So did Coming 2 America. There’s just so much there for you.”
To hear more from Ruth E. Carter on Yes, Girl!, check out this special episode created in partnership with Crown Royal. Listen to Yes, Girl! from your mobile device via Apple Podcasts | Via Spotify | Via Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.