The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture, from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther

Chronicle. May 2023. 224p. ISBN 9781797203065. $40. REF
This definitive work makes visible the thought, care, and skill required of a successful film costumer. Carter is perhaps best known today for designing standouts for the Black Panther films, which made her the first Black woman to win two Oscars. She also received Academy Award nominations for her costume designs for Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. She created designs for 13 more of Lee’s films, plus movies directed by Ava Duvernay, John Singleton, and Lee Daniels. Numerous anecdotes featuring well-known actors and filmmakers are woven throughout this conversational narrative. This book reveals the processes, including historical and cultural research and technical know-how, behind Carter’s most famous works. The importance of teamwork is emphasized. The author comes across as the storyteller she is, both with her costumes and her words. No book about costuming would be complete without visuals, and this book does not disappoint. The pages are filled with fascinating original illustrations, stunning photographs, and eye-catching stills highlighting Carter’s artistry in full, glorious color.
VERDICT An appealing read for anyone interested in moviemaking, and an essential for aspiring costumers. Carter’s contributions to Black cinema make this a worthy inclusion in any library collection.
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