Black Panther has been one of the most hotly anticipated films in years, especially for black moviegoers. By all accounts, it’s lived up to the hype and then some. At the official premiere, attendees walked the purple carpet in fashion inspired by African royalty. At the film’s huge opening weekend, a large portion of the enthusiastic audience followed suit.
All around the country, adults and children dressed with flair, celebrating their African heritage with pride. At nearly every theater, you saw lots of bold patterns, bright colors, and beautiful fabrics. There were dashikis aplenty as well as caps and headscarves. Many were celebrating their specific country of origin. For those who didn’t want to go all out, there were plenty of Wakanda-inspired T-shirts or tees featuring African designs.
For some, it was a family affair. Latarsher White told ABC News that she had custom gowns and suits made for her family to wear, and they proudly showed up at a Nashville theater in their royal attire.
Yet others went beyond the African royalty tradition and dressed to depict specific characters in the film. In many cases, this involved elaborate makeup and even props. This cosplay has become a major trend in the superhero movie genre, especially on opening weekend.
For many people with African heritage, this is the first time a film has inspired them to dress up. As Lisa Marie Bronson explained to Fashionista, “I’ve been waiting to see my own royalty reflected on the screen my whole life.” In her excitement to see the film and to see her heritage celebrated on the big screen, she decided to rock “Afro-centric hair” as well as a jacket emblazoned with the Chiwara, a deity of Mali’s Bambara people.
Whether they dressed up or not, moviegoers have been almost universally in love with the film. Many have already seen it more than once or plan to. Robinne Lee tweets: “I have tears in my eyes exiting the theater. So overwhelmed with emotion and pride and joy and wonder. Wow. Wow. Wow.” Reactions like this seem to be the norm. Karen Hunter tweets: “I’m convinced that this film and its message could change the world.”
Essence sums it up when they say that “Black Panther is much more than a movie.” Just search #WakandaForever on Instagram and you’ll see overwhelming evidence of how much this film means to the audience, just from the fashion choices alone. Then, head over to Twitter and search #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe. And if you haven’t seen it yet, get to the theater!