Famed costume designer Ruth E. Carter just launched her very first fashion collection in partnership with retail conglomerate H&M, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Last year, Carter became the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for her costume designs on the set of Ryan Coogler’s hit film, Black Panther. But the award winning designer isn’t new to this, she’s true to this. She has a 35 year career in the business, designing costumes for a litany of iconic films including Stephen Spielberg’s Amistad and Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, which she also received an Oscar nomination for. Carter also just wrapped up work on the highly anticipated Coming 2 America film.
Carter’s pivot into fashion is new terrain but one she welcomes happily. “People think that I got into costume design because of fashion, but it was really the vivid stories that I was reading by poets and playwrights that made me want to get into storytelling through costume design. Fashion was not on my radar. I was, rather, introduced to fashion through costume design. I started to understand how to use color and fashion and direct it to character,” she said.
As a result of her being a costume designer first, the opportunity to partner with H&M was one she took very seriously. “I didn’t want to all of a sudden be considered a fashion designer; I still wanted to be a costume designer, inserting myself into the fashion world, so I really had to think about how I wanted to communicate that,” Carter told The Hollywood Reporter.
The Ruth Carter x H&M collection features 11 pieces including tops, hoodies, shorts, joggers and a bucket hat. Each piece is adorned with various logos centering around the colors red, black and green, a nod to the Blackness. The words “Truth” and the phrase “Trust Your Voice” are etched in big letters across many of the items along with personalized quotes from Carter.
Photo Courtesy of H&M
“I’ve always been drawn to the Afro future. It’s been called different things throughout the years; back in the ‘90s it was ‘neo-soul’ and there was a lot of interest in colors of the liberation flag (red, black and green) and color-blocking. It’s made a comeback today, which is exciting, because I was always inspired by the messaging that the liberation colors represented – being independent and strong, knowing about the authenticity of your culture,” Carter said.
The Oscar winning designer’s alias on set is “Ruthless.” She’s channeling that energy in her collection to bring the boldest looks and messaging to the forefront. Using that same energy to remind people to “Just go for it!.” It is this energy that she believes has guided her career to the pinnacle that it is at now.
“I am reintroducing the big, strong, saturated liberation colors and the idea of learning to trust my voice as an African American woman who went the distance creatively. I feel very strongly that trusting my voice is what got me to the Dolby stage to win the Oscar.”
In addition to the new collection, Carter has launched an ad campaign in partnership with Hollywood stylist Ade Samuel. The campaign is a spoof of a podcast, hosted by Internet sensation Jay Versace, aptly titled, “And That’s the Truth, Ruth!” In the video, Carter breaks down her reasoning behind the collaboration with a little bit of fashion history.
One of the pieces in Carter’s new collection is etched with a quote from the iconic costume designer that reads, “I think we’re going to look back at this time in fashion and say there was a statement being made, and that was, ‘You can be who you are and unapologetic.’ And that, I think, is really wonderful.”
The Ruth Carter x H&M collection will be available in stores and online Thursday, February 13th.
Congratulations Ruth! Happy Black History Month!
Photo Courtesy of H&M