Diving Into Afro-Futuristic Fashion From Comedy Film “Coming 2 America”

Ruth E. Carter’s First Thought When She Signed On To Work On The 1988 Sequel Coming to America was “not to mess it up”.

The film was a celebration of black excellence, starring Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem, who finds himself in Queens, New York, looking for a bride.

“We were all thrilled to see royalty,” Carter said of the cult classic.

Thirty years later, director Craig Brewer returns to Zamunda to Coming 2 America, with Murphy reprising his role. This time, Prince Akeem is about to become king, but he must find his long-lost son.

He returns to Queens in search of Lavelle, played by Jermaine Fowler. The sequel features even funnier jokes, an energetic performance from Murphy — and revealing costumes from Oscar-winning actor Carter.

Read more: Oscar-Winning ‘Black Panther’ Costume Designer Opens Up About Her Famous Career

“I wanted to bring a bit more of the real Africa, says Carter, who worked with Maxhosa by Laduma brand designer Laduma Ngxokolo on the palace uniforms.

Despite 12 weeks, which is a good amount of prep time for the number of costumes she and her team had to create, it was still a race to get everything perfect.

Carter started on the ceremonial stages, which her cutters, embroiderers and artisans began constructing as she worked to imagine what Prince Akeem and everyone else would look like 30 years later.

Murphy and Carter had collaborated on a number of other projects, including Dolemite is my name, I spy and Dr. Dolittle 2.

Carter learned that when it came to working with the actor, “he doesn’t want the costume to be the fun thing. Let the clothes be the clothes and he can be the fun part.”

Murphy says Carter “makes clothes that make the character walk differently or affect your performance so you get a better feel for how the character moves.”

Akeem’s attire should reflect his position in the world.

“He’s the king,” Murphy said. “He has family. His clothes should reflect that.”

Carter gathered fabrics such as velvet that would look rich and used embroidery.

“I wanted an official Zamundan royal cloth,” she says. “So I created a graphic of masks, shapes and paisleys that were put together and seen on his clothes.”

She repeated the badge on her tunic and jacket – in particular, the pattern is all over her red jacket, which happened to be one of Murphy’s favorite outfits.

“The red jacket was so awesome and crazy,” he says. The star appreciated the bold colors Carter chose to represent Africa.

“There’s never been a movie where black people look like this, with black royalty,” Murphy says.

When Carter was working on Black Panthershe reminded her studio that they weren’t doing Coming to America but Wakandan royalty.

If Wakanda was a “forward-thinking nation, then Zamunda was the fashion hub of Africa,” she says.

As for the military looks seen on Wesley Snipes’ General Izzi, she used green and khaki but incorporated screen-printed touches.

“I just had fun and played with colors and shapes and patterns,” she says.

Read more: How the ‘Kingsman’ Franchise Men’s Clothing Became a Commercial Success

The sequel features a subtle return to the original. In one sequence, Akeem wears a cap with a vest – a sports creation.

“I did the vintage golf look with the hat and vest, going back to the first movie to show he doesn’t play polo anymore.”

She also added other subtle nods to the original, putting Akeem in silk pajamas.

Carter is aware of the first film‘s cult status, and how Black Panther saw spectators showing up in theaters dressed as characters. She hopes this sequel will be just as influential.

Murphy says he’s ready for a third Coming to America – and he wants Carter on board.

“In sixteen years, I’m not expecting 30 years,” he says. “I have an idea to do another, but it doesn’t happen for 75 years.”

Carter put it on her calendar. – Reuters/Jazz Tangcay

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