Black Panther Mia NewsFlash

Newsflash: "Black Panther" and African fashions at Mia

There has never been a phenomenon quite like Black Panther, the Marvel movie that is on track to become the highest-grossing superhero movie ever and among the most popular films of any kind in North America.
Set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, with its mostly black cast doing what superheroes do, it’s been hailed as a breakthrough for black America. And the bold, beautiful, Afrocentric look of it has spiked demand for African-inspired fashions.
Mia’s Newsroom recently searched our African collection for similar looks, and came up with some remarkable pieces in the spirit of the film.
Ramonda congo
Queen Ramonda’s headdress is reminiscent of an isocholo, a reed hat traditionally worn by married Zulu women during ceremonies. And while Mia doesn’t have one, we do have several vessels inspired by Congolese Mangbetu women, who wore elaborate hairstyles formed with clay. Older vessels like this one from Central Africa were created to serve palm wine.
The intricately beaded costume of Okoye, general of the Dora Milaje warriors, draws from the traditions of cultures across Africa, such as the Turkana or the Maasai. This beaded woman’s vest in Mia’s collection is from the Dinka peoples of South Sudan. Made of strands of blue, white, and red beads and decorated with cowrie shells, it was once worn by a young girl. Wearable body decorations are central to the artistry of this nomadic group, and the beads denote age as well as the social and marital status of the wearer.
Shuri’s prominent collar resembles traditional Zimbabwe and South Africa neck rings, while W’Kabi’s blanket is inspired by the classic Basotho blankets synonymous with the Sotho people. Our most charismatic collar is this beautiful, broad one from Egypt. Its design is layered with meaning: the brilliance of the sun, rebirth, regeneration. Likewise, this Amazigh Moroccan jewelry. These pieces would have been worn by a young Amazigh woman as she prepared for marriage—silver symbolizes purity and honesty. They are thought to protect the wearer from potential harm.
Katie Sisneros, a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow and content analyst at Mia, originally created this Newsflash for a series in Mia’s galleries.