As Black Panther’s Ruth Carter Turns To Technology, Styling The Future Has Never Been So Cool!

It looks like the future of fashion could be in the hands of costume designers like Ruth Carter, Renée April and Christine Clark.

Costume designers on movie sets have, for a long time, been boldly styling the future of fashion. You only have to look at iconic movies like Barbarella, Mad Max, Bladerunner, Star Wars, The Matrix, and even Back to The Future, to realise that merging fashion with technology is nothing new to these forward-thinking Hollywood designers- Ruth Carter, Renée April and Christine Clark, I am talking to you!

(r-l)Ruth Carter, Renée April and Christine Clark.

Ruth Carter, Fusing Traditional African Fashion with Technology

Afrofuturism is taking science fiction and technology and mixing it with African culture. Giving it an Afro-centric spin, the Black Panther costumes are the epitome of this fusion. Paying homage to African fashion, costume designer Ruth Carter pulls reference directly from various tribes from all over the continent. “I have never done a Marvel film, so it was a huge challenge, and I had a lot to learn” the Academy Award-nominated stylist shared with Pop Sugar.

Angela Bassett rocks the 3D printed hat in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER.

Carter did not only explore how technology could help her bring the characters costumes to live, she also ‘borrowed’ inspiration from the Turkana tribe, Himba tribe, Ndebele tribe and the Maasai. For Angela Bassett’s character Ramonda, Carter fused tradition with technology. She took the South African Zulu married woman’s hat and had it 3D printed. The ability to use this kind of technology allowed the costume designer to take culture and mix it with modern shapes and fuse some futuristic elements. “It was thrilling to create this world of Black Panther, this world of Wakanda that was based on African culture and then reimagining them in a futuristic model,” said Carter. Also, the cold shoulder dress worn by worldly spy Nakia (Lupita N’gonyo) was designed using software, embossed with a 3-D printer, and hand-painted.

The cold shoulder dress worn by worldly spy Nakia (Lupita N’gonyo) was designed using software, embossed with a 3-D printer, and hand-painted.

Renée April, Future Trend Spotter in 2049

Costume designer Renée April is the woman responsible for Blade Runner 2049 cast’s wardrobe . Her job was to imagine what fashion would look like 32 years from now. She explains, “The world — this world — did not evolve very much because they’re dying. It’s bad over there. If you’re still on Earth, it’s because it’s not going very well for you. The ones that stayed behind, it’s because they’re not healthy enough or they’re not rich enough. The Earth is dying, basically, and they’re in survival mode.”
Ryan Gosling’s leather, fur-lined coat

April’s wardrobe choices for the film were inspired by the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier (AW09), Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen (AW98) and Vivienne “Punkature” Westwood. Although futuristic, Renée purposely decided to not give a subtle nod to the future of wearable technology clothing. Why?  “I made costumes for the dark, wet, polluted, miserable world that Denis [Villeneuve] created. I had to hold myself back and remove anything too avant-garde or outré because it didn’t help the story. There were no superhero suits because the world needed to be realistic, and the characters relatable,” said Renée.

Christine Clark, Warrior Woman of the Future

When it comes futuristic fashion, the modern Tron Legacy film has it all. In it, fashion and technology were partners in crime. Headed by costume designers, Christine Clark and Michael Wilkinson, the duo managed to create the kind of looks that successfully distracted me from the plot of the film.


Although there have been other movies after with fashion tech-inspired wardrobe, I am still completely taken in by the striking futuristic outfits adorned by the characters, especially Zuse, whose Ziggy Stardust look was all corset and high-heeled boots. The intricate designs were unofficially inspired by designers of today, Gareth Pugh, Olivier Theyskens and Nicolas Ghesquiere. Wilkinson and Clark gave an edgy vibe to the 150 super suits, which you see on all principals, and about 154 suits for the supporting cast that had a more economical lighting system, more than 60 helmets and about 65 real-world costumes.

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.