On The African Inspiration…
“We wanted to make sure we stayed true to the source material and used as many actual African tribal looks as possible,” Harlow says of the makeup looks. “We have five tribes in the film: Jabari, River, Border, Mining, and Merchant. Basically, what we had to do was figure out what those tribes would look like, and in return, figure out what those members would look like.
“We used inspiration, say, for River tribe, who wear lip plates from an actual tribe called the Mursi (of Ethiopia). For the scarification looks seen within the Border tribe, we used inspiration again from the Mursi, as well as the Bumi (of Ethiopia). A lot of real tribes factored into the various facial markings and body paintings for our five, including the Himba (of Namibia), the Maasai (of Kenya), and the Nuba (of Sudan). It was important that we distinguished them at a glance, so you’d know who everyone was, even though Wakanda is modernized. We still wanted to create looks that you could trace back.”
For hair, Friend turned to African culture and sought inspiration from reference books along with movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and the original Blade Runner. “I also looked at lots of modern references, like Afropunk,” she adds. “Plus, Black Panther was my fourth Marvel movie, and they really gave me a lot of free range to design looks. As far as my process, the first part was African culture — looking at styles and tradition, texture, textiles, and clothes. The second part was the modern natural hair movement happening right now in real life, where women and men are proud of their texture. The third part of that was [futurism]. Wakanda is a technologically-advanced society, so I wanted to look at how that fit in to the hair.”