Welcome to Wakanda: Merging Film and Fashion at NYFW

By: Lily Noelle

As New York Fashion week has come to an end, Marvel Studios treated us to an unexpected fashion show that took place on Monday, February 12. The studio, known for its superhero movies, displayed its presentation titled, "Welcome to Wakanda" and Industria Studios in Manhattan to promote their upcoming movie Black Panther. 

Set in Africa, Black Panther takes us on a journey of main character T'Challa, who returns to the kingdom of Wakanda to claim his place as king. Designers Cushnie et Ochs, Ikiré Jones, Fear of God, Tome, Chromat, Sophie Theallat and Laquan Smith focused on reflecting the characters from the film in their creations and payed special attention to elements encapsulating African visuals. Their designs boasted an array of details including prints of African artwork, tribal patterns, hand-woven fabrics, feathers and meticulous beadwork, while still calling to mind the words "glamorous" and "cool". 

Besides contributions from the seven core designers, the film also features accessories from fashion's finest shoe and jewelry designers as well unique hair and makeup looks. New designer Aurora James debuted shoes from her brand Brother Vellies, which channels African fashion and promotes fair labor in Africa. Jewelry designer Dourican Fletcher showed off her ornate collection while hair and makeup moguls Nick Barose and Rodney Cutler planned colorful, exotic looks, which lent that extra wow factor to the already mesmerizing outfits. 

But as captivating as the show was, it was not just about the clothes. The designers strived to convey messages through their pieces to address global issues, some of which are subtle themes in the film. Designer Ikiré Jones acknowledged what issues play a role in both the film and our reality.

  "It's beautiful aesthetics, but it's [also] a subversive way to talk about the refugee crisis, globalization, ethical waste, ethical labor and labor practices," he said. These words were justified by actions as the designers decided to auction their pieces for charity. The money collected will be donated to Save the Children, an organization that aims to protect the wellbeing of children around the world. 

Black Panther was released to theaters on February 16 and has since generated plenty of positive movie buzz. If the sheer genius of promoting a film with such powerful fashion hasn't already convinced you to see the movie, then surely the talented cast will. It's not so often that cinema comes with a complimentary fashion show, but when that happens, it's a real treat.