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H&M’s latest collaborator is the fashion name you need to know

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Lara Faye
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Fill your wardrobe with the designs of an Oscar-winning costumer designer.

When it comes to sell-out collaborations with powerhouse creatives, H&M has quite the reputation to maintain. From Stella McCartney to Moschino, the high street giant has launched exclusive collections with some the biggest names in fashion. And for its latest collaboration H&M has surprised us once again, choosing to partner with one of the most renowned women in the world of costume design.

H&M has announced that it is collaborating with Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter on a new streetwear collection. One of the most influential women in film, even if you don’t recognise her name you will be well acquainted with her work. Carter has received global acclaim for her ability to tell a story through costume and has crafted entire worlds through the power of clothes. In 2019 she made history as the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Costume Design, in recognition for her work in box-office smash Black Panther.  

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Carter has designed costumes for over 40 films and known for her work in Hollywood films such as Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Steven Speilberg’s Amistad and the Academy Award-nominated Selma. It was Do The Right Thing that catapulted Carter to industry-wide recognition as she created a world of costumes that reflected and celebrated the urban African-American aesthetic. In Black Panther Carter explored African prints and textiles to create a whole world of costume that both constructed the identity of the fictional kingdom of Wakanda and honoured the rich traditions of African fashion and design.  

Though her work has captivated audiences of millions across the world, never before has there been the opportunity to buy a piece of her incredible fashion output. Until now, that is. This Black History Month Carter has designed her first commercially available collection. 

Carter described the goal of the 11-piece collection as inspiring “pride, connection, and personal expression”. The collection is rich in references to 90s streetwear and features oversized sweaters, sweatpants, T-shirts and bucket hats emblazoned with empowering motifs such as “Ruthless,” “Trust Your Voice, and “Truth”, and a colour palette of red, black, and green, reflecting those of the Liberation flag.

The multi-accoladed costumer designer explained the deeply personal connects behind the collection: “When I was working on the many Spike Lee films, I got the nickname, ‘Ruthless’ by other key crew who would say, ‘Hey Ruthless!’ I like to think it’s because I worked so hard behind the scenes designing looks and running the streets of New York to gather materials and get hundreds of actors in costume, helping the actors connect to characters through fashion.”

She continued: “This collection was created in that spirit and it serves to empower anyone with an inner creative who is passionate about nurturing their voice and determined to share their story – their art. It is to inspire a new generation, who need to project a personal expression of inclusion and who want to do it authentically in a way that vibes with their creative self, so I want to encourage them to ‘Trust Their Voice,’.”

In honour of the empowering spirit of this collaboration H&M has also created a scholarship with Hampton University, a historically black university in Hampton, Virginia, where Carter studied.

The 11-piece collection will be available in selected stores and online 13 February.

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Images courtesy of H&M

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Lara Faye

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