When and where: Friday night at the Heinz History Center, Strip District.
What does it take to be one of the best parties of the year? Positive energy, and there was plenty of it during the opening night gala to celebrate the work of acclaimed costume designer Ruth E. Carter, whose most recent film was Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Guests were greeted at the door by an African drum circle before being led into the cocktail hour, where they had a chance to meet Ms. Carter before the retrospective reveal. The visionary behind the event, Demeatria Boccella, is one of the true #Sheroes of Pittsburgh, always looking to elevate the city with inspiring things to see and do. “Passion gets ahead of me,” she said, striking as always in a royal blue asymmetrical dress and red suede boots. “Ruth’s work is such an inspiration, and when I saw ‘Black Panther,’ I knew I had to celebrate this woman.” Added Andy Masich, CEO and president of the Heinz History Center: “This is so special to have this world premiere featuring the work of the greatest designer of black cinema.” The excitement was palpable as Ms. Carter prepared to unveil the exhibit to guests — and inspire young people. “She doesn’t know yet, but we are presenting her with a proclamation to make Aug. 24 Ruth E. Carter Day,” said James Hill, executive assistant to Mayor Bill Peduto. “This is just so impressive to have this here, and we hope to work with the History Center so that every public school in Pittsburgh can be inspired by this woman and her achievements.”
And now a moment with … Ruth E. Carter:
What inspires you as a costume designer? I love to tell stories. Costume design is different from fashion design because you have a very specific muse. You have characters that need to have their stories told through what they wear and why.
Why was “Black Panther” a very exciting story to tell? This was an opportunity to help shape a superhero film through the lens of black culture and African culture. The continent is such a vast resource of inspiration, and so I used this as a gift. What would the world be like in the future? What could it be like? The possibility of this truly moved me to dream.
When Demeatria Boccella approached you about displaying the costumes from “Black Panther” in Pittsburgh, what was your reaction?I thought, ‘We can do even better!’ I had been collecting my costumes from films like “Malcolm X,” “Selma” and “Roots” for more than 35 years, so I can give you those for a retrospective.
What do you hope people take away from this exhibit? I hope that they learn what a costume designer does. I hope little girls and boys come to this exhibit and realize that they can tell stories through clothes, that you can create art through costumes and inspire others.