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Ruth E. Carter makes history with 'Black Panther' Oscars win

The famed costume designer won for her incredible costumes in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."


Legendary costume designer Ruth E. Carter made history Sunday when she won her second Academy Award for her stellar work on the "Black Panther" franchise. Her award for best costume design for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" made her the first Black woman to win two Oscars — a helpful reminder that the #OscarsSoWhite controversy remains unresolved. 

The "Black Panther" films launched Carter’s name into another tier of popularity, but she’s been highly revered in the film industry for years — particularly among Black people, who’ve been central in just about every major production she has dressed. 

Ruth E. Carter backstage at the 95th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Calif.
Ruth E. Carter backstage at the 95th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

For the best primer on Carter’s career, I recommend checking out her feature episode of  Netflix’s series “Abstract: The Art of Design.” (This is easily one of my favorite series ever made — of any genre.)

“What makes Ruth’s work so beautiful is the humanity,” Ryan Coogler, who directed both “Black Panther” films, said in the episode. “It never feels like costumes, you know? It just feels like clothes. Even when it’s at its most extravagant — people are jumping out of airplanes and fighting big, afrofuturistic battles, it still feels like something these characters put on, and that they wear.”

Characters dressed by Carter “still feel like people," he added. 

Here are some of her most memorable costume design achievements:

To learn more about Carter's creative process, check out this talk she gave to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2021, a couple of years after winning her first Oscar: