Oscar Award Winning Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter selected four aspiring fashion designers for an opportunity of a lifetime. In celebration of the pivotal, newly added Costume Design category at this year’s 54th NAACP Image Awards, she wore their designs to four separate awards events. As an HBCU graduate of Hampton University, it is easy to see why a partnership with Historically Black University Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design made sense. She collaborated on an “Icons of Afrofuture” Design Challenge to award aspiring fashion designers, in her field of expertise, an opportunity to create a name for themselves.

What does it mean to design in the Afrofuture genre? For Carter, she describes Afrofuturism as “innovative and creative; it’s being artistic, visionary, and inspired.” Carter went on to say that, “it’s realizing the power of your voice. It’s knowing you can influence change in someone’s life by helping them see their potential.” Utilizing this vision, each of the designers went about creating a unique piece that embodies this idea.

(Images of the winning designs sourced from Ruth E. Carter’s Instagram @therealruthecarter)

Carter selected four of the most spectacular pieces among the six entries. The Academy Award Winner wore the designs of Osadayi Ohanmu at the NAACP Fashion Show, Cresseide Jaques at the NAACP Awards Dinner, Keanu Williams at the 54th NAACP Image Awards, and D’on Lauren Edwards at the 25th Costume Designers Guild Awards (in respective order, seen in the images below).

The “Icons of Afrofuture” Design Challenge came together through the creative leadership of Archtoculture, an agency hyper-focused on helping underserved founders and brands gain more access to opportunities with pivotal results. To read more about this collaboration, all those involved, and how to get involved in future challenges, please visit Pensole Lewis College.

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