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Vixen Chat: Ruth E. Carter, The Queen of Costume Design

2012-08-13 07.41.27-2In the late 1980s, a theatre student and a young filmmaker collaborated for the first time, on his second film. 25 years later, (theatre student-cum-costume designer) Ruth E. Carter and Spike Lee are Academy Award nominees and Hollywood icons—and they still work together (most recently on Lee's remake of the controversial Korean masterpiece Oldboy).

In addition to Lee, Carter has worked with legends like Steven Spielberg and has dressed bankable leading men from Denzel Washington to Josh Brolin. During her 30+ film career, Carter has racked up two Oscar nominations and received the American Black Film Festival Career Achievement Award in 2002. This year, her work is featured in two of 2013’s most-anticipated film releases: the aforementioned Oldboy and Lee Daniels’ The Butler (which will be released this Friday, August 16th).

We spoke to Ms. Carter about fashion in film and her inspired journey to the heights of Hollywood.

Vibe Vixen: What’s your favorite period in the history of fashion?
Ruth E. Carter: I love many aspects of fashion history. There’s something magical about [each] period.

When did you first realize that you’d “made it” in Hollywood?
When I was nominated for an Oscar, for my work on Malcolm X. I was working on Tina Turner’s life story [at the time].

What was it like to work on Whitney Houston’s final film?
It was a shock when [she passed away]. I felt loss for a long time, but I feel the blessing now. [Sparkle is] very important to me.

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Did the iconic models of the 1960s, like Twiggy and Donyale Luna, influence your work for Sparkle?
I didn’t know about Donyale Luna until I started research for Sparkle. When I found her, she became my muse. I based Carmen Ejogo’s look, and some of the performance outfits, on images of her.

What was your most challenging on-the-job experience
The final days of shooting [Amistad] were very arduous and emotional. [There were] 1,500 extras. [It was shot] in Puerto Rico and all of the female extras were topless, very few spoke English, we were shooting in a national historical museum—so we had filming restrictions—and the weather was extremely hot and humid.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler has the ultimate dream cast. What was it like to work with such big stars?
The director always has a “dream cast”, but [usually] not all of the stars can commit. Lee got everyone he wanted! [I had] to look past “Oprah” and focus on the character being dressed.

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What direction were you given by Lee Daniels, in terms of the costumes?
“Truth, authenticity, always.” I enjoyed working with Lee Daniels immensely. I’m very excited and a little nervous to see [the film].

Was it difficult to create costumes for so many decades?
I’ve done that before a few times (laughs). I treat each decade as its own mini-movie: eight decades, eight mini-movies.

Has anyone ever asked you to deliver the insane or nearly impossible?
All the time. But, that’s my job.

Is there any period, style-wise, that particularly makes you smile?
The 80s! The shoulder pads, the asymmetrical haircuts. That was my time! I look at pictures and wonder “what was I thinking?”


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What are your favorite films and TV shows?
The Godfather, The Color Purple and Once Upon a Time in America. The Lawrence Welk Show had amazing wardrobes!

What are the items of clothing that every woman should have in her closet?
A t-shirt, a pair of skinny jeans or a [skinny] skirt, a little white blazer and a pair of heels. With that combination, you can’t go wrong. You can dress for uptown or downtown.

What would your fans be surprised to discover about you?
I love to paint. I’m no master, but I’ve always been an artist.

Click through for more pics.

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All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

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So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

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On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

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Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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