Did Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Deserve the Oscar for Best Costume Design?


The 95th Academy Awards threw up some surprises, with Everything Everywhere All at Once as the night’s biggest winner. Yet, for fashion fans, the Oscar collected by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever caught people’s eye. What about this movie allowed it to capture the Best Costume Design award?

The Nominations

Four other movies were short-listed for this award, with Babylon, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris as the nominees. While it can be tricky knowing which of these excellent films to watch, ExpressVPN shows a list of Oscar-nominated movies and uses a flowchart to help viewers decide. They’ve confirmed the Black Panther plot: the recently deceased King’s mother and sister fight against a new enemy. Many other movies on the list differed significantly from this premise and the sci-fi setting. For example, Babylon is about the early days of Hollywood and is ideal for someone wanting to watch rich stars going wild. At the same time, Elvis is a look back at the iconic singer’s life and is recommended for how it presents complicated relationships.

Best Costume Design is one of the most challenging categories to choose from since some of the outfits worn are often meant to subtly invoke a certain type of atmosphere, while in other cases, they’re meant to be more spectacular. With such a wide diversity of settings and time periods covered in these movies, it’s reasonable to ask how the judges could choose between the costume work that went into them. This look by Volta at how the award is decided points out that emphasis is placed on historical accuracy or outstanding fantasy elements, with Black Panther clearly in the second category.

Why Did Wakanda Forever Win?

Ruth E. Carter was this film’s costume designer, and the Oscar was awarded in her name. In fact, this was the second time that Carter had won the prestigious award, having previously done so for the original Black Panther movie made in 2018. This double made her the first black woman to earn multiple Oscars, and this year was also the first time that a costume designer had won an Oscar for a movie and its sequel.

SlashFilm explains that the Black Panther movies are set in the fictional, hi-tech country of Wakanda, which has advanced more than the rest of the planet. That provided a chance for the designer to create something unique. Carter took the opportunity to create some fantastic clothing for the Royal family, the guards, and the rest of the population, as well as designing the outstanding white outfits for the sequel’s opening funeral scene. That means it scooped the win thanks to the vital fantasy elements, beating films that were mainly judged on their historical accuracy.

The designer said that her choices were inspired by traditional Maasai and Ndebele clothing and the local fashions seen in Lesotho, leading to a unique look that brings Wakanda and its characters to life. For example, this WWD article points out how Queen Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett) uses incredibly detailed and ornate outfits that make her stand out from the rest of the attendees at the United Nations meeting.

The Unique Aspects That Helped It Stand Out

There’s no doubt that the rest of the movies that were nominated for the Best Costume Design Oscar also deserved an award. However, the unique aspects of the Black Panther movie’s fantasy setting helped it stand out and make it deserving award, with many critics suggesting that this may inspire African filmmakers and designers alike.

Written by Megan Taylor
Megan is a beauty expert who is passionate about all things makeup and glam! Her love for makeup has brought her to become a beauty pro at Glamour Garden Cosmetics.