“I just started thinking more about the issues that are surrounding the idea of black cinema and black designers having more representation.” – Aurora James
Black Panther NYFW
Marvel Studios Black Panther hit theaters yesterday and it has been madness.
What do you get when Marvel’s Black Panther and New York Fashion Week collide?
If you know anything about the designer brand Chromat, you know that they are always serving up superhero vibes. Each collection explores the idea of merging architecture, fashion and technology, with a special focus on empowering women. So when it came to teaming up with Disney and Marvel to make a one of a kind look, inspired by the film Black Panther, it was a perfect match. Chromat was founded by Becca McCharen-Tran in 2010 and has taken off with superhero speed since then. We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Tran alongside fellow Chromat designer Tolulope Aremu. Check out what these two unapologetic women had to say in our exclusive interview below.
Can you tell us about collaborating on this project with Disney and Marvel’s Black Panther?
Tolulope Aremu: When we got this project, I immediately thought okay, Black Panther, super hero, African, Chroma babes … And the first person I thought of was my mother. I’m 100% Nigerian, so growing up in our household, seeing her cultural garbs and her Ankara fabrics fill the closets from like brim to brim; it seemed very natural to put this Ankara into the look. Then when we finally saw the film and saw the technology behind it, it seemed like we had to add a tech element to it. So, we added neoprene, as well as a bonding fabric. Then to kind of wrap it all into the chroma babe world, we added the cages to the dress, as well as the halo piece behind me. Adding all those three things into one look seemed very natural. Then putting that look inside Wakanda was very fluid and it just kind of worked.
Do you feel like this look could be a part of your collection or is within the same realm with the message your brand portrays?
Becca McCharen-Tran: I would say definitely one unique thing about this piece is that we made it for plus size models specifically, and that’s something that we are always trying to encourage more of in fashion. Not only diversity in race and ethnicity, but in body size and shape. So we’re always about highlighting plus sized, curvy models, as well. I would say it’s funny we’ve never worked with a print before for our main line but this project was really special to be able to work with this Nigerian Ankara fabric. But a lot of the other shapes with the neoprene is very much in line with us … it’s super Chromaty.
What dose this experience, being a part of this collaboration, mean to you personally?
Becca McCharen-Tran: The Black Panther project was so major. It’s a huge, huge deal. It’s changing the world, so it’s a huge honor to be apart of it.
Tolulope Aremu: Just to have any small part of this whole thing was really an honor and a privilege. It’s just going to take over the world. Just to have like a little dab … in it, is just amazing.
Do you have an ideal person or celebrity that you would love to see in the look?
Tolulope Aremu: When I thought of designing this look, I thought … I didn’t want it to be tribal. I wanted the look to be for a Nigerian queen, going to this Wakanda event, wearing this piece that she got from Chromat and was like, I’m gonna wear this and slay all day. That’s what I thought of.
What is your super hero piece? When you wake up some mornings feeling blah and you feel like “I need to put this on so I can conquer the day”.
Becca McCharen-Tran: For me it’s eyeliner, cat eye, like liquid liner.
Tolulope Aremu: For me it’s the three dots that I put here (points next to her eye). It feels like war paint and it kind of represents my mom, my dad, and my brother.
Be sure to check out Marvel Black Panther in theaters February 16.
This event was brought to us by Marvel Studios and Disney and sponsored by Lexus, Lancôme and benefits Save The Children.