Ruth’s Reign

Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter dazzles in ‘Coming 2 America’ / Women’s History Month Honoree

Neither the costumes or Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall have changed much since the original ‘Coming to America’ movie which was done 30 years ago.

Many legendary actors were brought back for the long awaited Coming 2 America sequel and it was only right to take notice of the one person who brought those memorable characters to life.

Oscar-Winning Designer, Ruth E. Carter, stepped in as the film’s costume designer. The previous costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis definitely created some memorable looks, but Carter wanted to step in to shed some light on true African fashion and provide accurate details for it. Carter has been the staple in hundreds of Black films and television shows. Her career sky rocketed after she met director Spike Lee and landed her first job as a costume designer on the set of School Daze in 1988. She has provided looks for many classic Black films, such as, Crooklyn, B*A*P*S, Black Panther and many more. Many people think a job like this is easy, but it takes a true visionary to be able to read a script and get an understanding of how the writer sees the character. It’s not always about what looks good, but its about making the character come to life. Carter has consistently proven why she is one of the BEST stylists in the entertainment industry. In fact, she is the FIRST Black woman to obtain an Oscar for her work in Black Panther.

When I learned that Carter would be taking over as the costume designer, I knew that fans were in for a treat. It’s been 30 years since the first Coming to America debuted and I can assure you that Carter had no trouble modernizing each character’s look. We have a lot more information about African culture than we did back in the 80’s and Carter made sure she obtained as much knowledge as she could to find sources of inspiration for her costumes. Making sure you understand someone’s life before you emulate is very important. Town and Country Magazine mention that, ” She worked with South African designers to create fabrics for the costumes and traveled to India for opulent embroidery.”

There were over 800 costumes that she helped create for the film and each one of them was very well thought out. Every single costume stood out and the colors used were vibrant and captivating. Carter noted that about 97 percent of the costumes were made from scratch, according to Forbes. The combination of African prints and colors paired with modern wear created an AfroFuturistic style. Although this woman is a true legend, she did rely on 39 other fashion designers to help her vision come true. Among those designers were some heavy hitters in the fashion industry such as Sergio Hudson, Laurel Dewitt, Melody Ehsani, and many more. It takes true talent to be able to collaborate with so many people and produce a good outcome. She reigns supreme in the fashion industry and I am eager to see what she has in-store for us next.

I’ve watched Coming 2 America three times since it debuted and I am truly in love with all the effort that Carter put into designing these looks. My absolute favorite was pretty much EVERYTHING Bopoto Izzi (Teyana Taylor) wore. The gold tones she used for a costumes were very princess-like and fit her character perfectly. I also loved Meeka’s looks. Every outfit she wore embodied her strong warrior princess personality. What was your favorite costume?




By Brittanie Sturdivant, Sophomore, Open Campus Parsons School of Design

Instagram: B_Slay_S



Written by Brittanie

I rep the 219, Indiana. I'm a wardrobe stylist and owner of Vintage By. B. I love shopping for pieces that are different and that I know nobody else will have! But one thing I hate about shopping is going broke doing so. Throughout the years of me working in retail, I have picked up a lot of tips and tricks for saving LOTS of money when shopping. I also go against trends by Vintage shopping. I find pieces that I can pair together to create works of art. You can call me a penny pincher, but I'll look BOMB while pinching my pennies :)

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