If you’ve ever wondered how kings and queens of the fictional, futuristic nation of Wakanda might dress, look no further than Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night. In keeping with the “royal attire” theme dictated by the evening’s invitation, stars and attendees hit the purple-hued carpet in a kaleidoscopic display of regal, Africa-inspired fashion.
Taking cues from the film’s costumes (which were envisioned by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter), Lupita Nyong’o channeled her warrior character, Nakia, while wearing a purple, custom-made Atelier Versace chiffon gown with gold metal hardware harness details reminiscent of armor. Chadwick Boseman, who stars as Wakandan ruler T’Challa, looked every bit the part in a black and gold blazer by Emporio Armani.
For Letitia Wright, who plays the role of princess Shuri in the Ryan Coogler-directed film, that interpretation came in the form of a black-and-white embroidered Bibhu Mohapatra gown, picked out with the help of stylist Ade Samuel.
“We talked about what the movie meant and how strong it was and wanted to give that same powerful feel to Letitia’s look on the red carpet,” says the stylist, who drew upon her own Nigerian roots while researching the theme before landing on the ethereal, embellished number for Wright. “Letitia plays such a riveting character and she brings a light to the role. Keeping her fresh and young was the idea.”
But it wasn’t just the cast who took the dress code to heart for the occasion. Styled by Jason Bolden, “grown-ish” star Yara Shahidi wore a youthful, tasseled white Etro gown and Christian Louboutin sandals, while British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo wore a traditional dashiki. “Insecure’s” Issa Rae also got the warrior memo, opting for a sophisticated, pleated white Rosie Assoulin dress with a rainbow-colored panel, paired with metallic Giuseppe Zanotti shoes.
Fresh off the Grammys stage, where she delivered a powerful speech in support of the Time’s Up movement on Sunday, actor and musician Janelle Monáe worked with stylist Alexandra Mandelkorn to put her own spin on the theme while staying true to her own sartorial sensibility that she’s cultivated over the years. That meant “something black and white, but also something sculptural and avant-garde that felt very regal,” explains Mandelkorn, who worked with Monáe to select a look from Christian Siriano’s pre-fall 2018 collection that fit the bill. Dressed in a billowing skirt paired with an architectural top featuring two-tone sleeves, Monáe topped off the ensemble with an Erickson Beamon tribal choker and a traditional black kufi cap embellished with gold embroidery.
“It looks like a crown,” says Mandelkorn. “It was very fitting for the theme.”
More looks on the purple carpet
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