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10 Facts About Black Panther Production and Costume Design Process – As Told By Hannah Beachler and Ruth Carter

Hear all about these fun Black Panther production and costume design facts, as told in an interview by Production Designer Hannah Beachler and Costume Designer Ruth Carter!

10 Facts About Black Panther Production and Costume Design Process - Hannah Beachler and Ruth E Carter

Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter, Production Designer Hannah Beachler, Photo credit Natasha C. Nicholes / HousefulOfNicholes.com

So Marvel’s Black Panther finally came out this weekend, and I hope you all want to see it! I have been sharing tons of coverage about my experience at the Black Panther press conference, and I hope you’ve been following along. While I was in Los Angeles, I got to sit down in a group interview with Production Designer Hannah Beachler and Costume Designer Ruth Carter. They are such awesome ladies with amazing jobs that really made this film come to life. Read on to hear a few facts about their research in Africa for the film, some of the ideas they got for the sets, and costume designs and creations worn by the characters in the movie.

Ruth Carter, Ryan Coogler, Winston Duke on Black Panther set

10 Facts About Black Panther’s Production and Costume Design Process

1. According to Beachler, one of the first steps was to figure out how and where on the continent of Africa that they wanted Wakanda to be. The team decided to set it in Sub Saharan Africa, near “Kibuye, Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. We also took from Omo Valley tribes in EthiopiaWe wanted to keep it very specific. We also reached into Western Nigeria, so their people and the Igbo people which you’ll see in the film a lot.” 

2. Hannah says that she paid a visit to different parts of Africa to research and get a feel for the area. I “did a lot of research in
Nairobi and the bigger cities around — and Kenya and in South Africa, Joburg, and Cape Town just for some of the architecture.” Beachler also says that although there are a lot of large places and spaces to explore in South Africa, there was a special intimacy that comes from the culture and the people.

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER Dora Milaje Conceptual Character and Costume Design Sketch Costume Design: Ryan Meinderding and VisDev Team Concept Artist: Anthony Francisco ©Marvel Studios 2018

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHERDora Milaje Conceptual Character and Costume Design Sketch
Costume Design: Ryan Meinderding and VisDev Team
Concept Artist: Anthony Francisco, ©Marvel Studios 2018

3. Before Carter came into the picture, much of the design work had been done. She says that Beachler left her an entire manual of all of the design work they’d done! “I open it up and there’s like a map of Wakanda. It has a royal palace in the middle. It has districts of — that are explained to the hilt. I was like how long did it take you to do this manual?” It proved to be helpful, she showed it to the costume team and told them to study it!

4. When they began to design costumes, Ruth says they looked at all sorts of styles, including Afro Punk, modern fashion ,and everything in between. She said, “We wanna this present this world as a kingdom. What if Africa was not colonized? And I thought, wow, this is like really cool how you can mix ancient indigenous tribal culture with modern. We don’t want to make a documentary. This is a futuristic place. This is a place that has the richest mineral known on earth, Vibranium.  And, you know, they’re aware of it. They’re aware of their richness. So, let’s just move that forward.” 

5. The presence of color is big in Africa, and the costume team decided they would weave this into their designs. “I felt like the color, we upped the ante on the color. If you go to Africa, you see people walking around with color. You see a brown guy with a yellow shirt and red pants. That’s just the norm. So, we’re not reinventing anything. We’re just bringing it out. And we’re just honoring it and holding it up.”

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER Shuri's Lab Conceptual Set Design by Hannah Beachler's Production Design Team Illustration: Drew Leung

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER
Shuri’s Lab Conceptual Set Design by Hannah Beachler’s Production Design Team
Illustration: Drew Leung

6. Beachler was amazed when she walked into the costume design building with Ruth for the first time and saw the vision wall they’d made. “First of all, I’ve never see anything so big. It was the top of floor of an entire building, and I’m telling you it was ginormous. I walked in and the whole time, I don’t even know. I was on another planet. The wall — I mean a wall of just this beautiful collage of references. I’ve never been in a store in this country where it is represented — complete black
culture. Not ever.”

7. The team ordered a bunch of blankets from the Lesotho Village in South Africa, but they couldn’t use them! “The Border Tribe they use these blankets, based on Ryan Coogler’s trip to South Africa and to the Lesotho Village where he stayed — and he fell in love with these blankets. So, he was like, Ruth, you have to get these Lesotho blankets. I was like okay. I’m gonna get ‘em.” It turns out that the blankets were too heavy, really thick, and not very pliable. With no time to order new blankets when coming up on a deadline, they chose to forgo their holiday break and work through it to shave and burn the blankets down to thin them a bit and make them work!

Hannah Beachler (middle) on Black Panther set with Ryan Coogler

8. When deciding how to style Chadwick Boseman’s character T’Challa, they used his role as an African King to decide what his costumes would look like. Carter says, “So the king is royal. The king is the king. We decided that, you know, the panther suit, well, the new suit was going to be a newer technology, more streamlined, more beautiful, less for us than the Civil War one was. And so, that translates into his everyday wardrobe. I tried to pick things that I felt that would be body conscious. You see he wears a lotta more knits and sweaters — so that you see his arms.

9. Both Beachler and Carter agree that thier favorite set in the film was Shuri’s lab. “As the sets were coming, everybody would ohhaohh. You know, the actors would be like, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh! We knew Shuri was gonna be last. So, Letitia would be like ‘mine better good’.  I said — every time I see her I was like it’s gonna be. Like, you’re not even gonna  believe it. And she was like okay. Like, she wasn’t believing me. We worked really hard on that one. I think it was kinda Feige’s favorite as well. He had told me.”

10. The giant graffiti mural on the wall in Shuri’s lab was added to reflect how smart, young, and fun she is, and they actually found the artist in Atlanta from a street mural they found. “We brought in gentleman, Brandon Sadler, who has done a lot of murals for the Afropunk Festival. He’s out of Atlanta. He’s fabulous. You’ll see his work all over Atlanta. It’s usually the the big koi fish that you see everywhere. And up in Cabbagetown you’ll see a bunch of his work on that. I had taken a picture of it. Funny story. I go to Ryan and I said ‘I have to show you.’ And he’s like, ‘no, wait. I just went to Afropunk. I gotta show you this.’ So, we both whip out our phones. It’s the same person!

Marvel Black Panther is in theaters NOW, go see it!

I loved learning all about the Black Panther Production and Costume Design Process! I loved this movie and I hope you all do , too. Listen to Ruth Carter give more details in the video below about costume design in Black Panther!

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I am attending a press trip courtesy of Disney. Travel, lodging and other logistics are provided, opinions are those of Honey + Lime.

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