Ruth E. Carter, the extraordinary costume designer for Coming 2 America, among other projects, is celebrating the upcoming release of the Amazon Studios film, along with her star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Carter, the first Black Costume Designer to be recognized with a star by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, is one of two costume designers who has received such distinction.
Carter, who actually won an Oscar for amazing costumes for The Black Panther, is notably excited about her recent achievements, particularly as a designer for Eddie Murphy’s highly anticipated film. “I have a great respect for the first film and its influence on culture. It was the first time in cinema that we’d seen African royalty in such a grand way and there was a lot to draw from (her colleague, Deborah Nadoolman Landis, designed the costumes for COMING TO AMERICA). “I realized that we could take Zamunda from 30 years ago and bring it into the 2020’s, so that’s what I tried to do. I knew there were going to be a whole lot of costumes, which was exciting to me.”
“We combined lots of different cultures,” she says. “We borrowed from East Indian culture and combined it with African culture. We also came up with very avant-garde hairstyles and geles and headpieces. So, a headwrap may incorporate flowers or a hairstyle might have some kind of 3-D affect to it. It’s all Zamundan style.
“A lot of times, actors don’t have an idea about what their characters might wear, so I show them sketches and research, and they point out things that they like and then we start the process of trying on costumes,” she says.
“When you’re working with Eddie Murphy, one thing is for sure – you’re not dressing the person, you’re dressing the character,” says Carter. “With Akeem, it’s 30 years later and he’s much more mature, with a family, so I wanted to give him more royal fabrics, like velvets and silks. You’ll also see this swirly, leafy pattern on his clothes, too. I also created an embroidery pattern that is the family crest.”