What makes an icon? Is it longevity? Passion? An impressive and unmatched body of work? If so, Ruth E. Carter exemplifies all of its characteristics and then some.

In her decades-long career, Carter has solidified her place in black cinema as the costume designer for some of the most prolific films about the black experience including Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing and, most recently, Black Panther. The three-time Oscar nominee could take home her first Academy Award on Feb. 24 if she wins for Best Costume Design for the superhero film that grossed over $1 billion worldwide.


Though she hasn’t decided on who she’d thank first if she takes home the golden statuette, among the first would be her former theater instructor and mentor at Hampton University, Linda Bolton Smith.

“I got to explore and see her discipline,” Carter told The Root. “She opened up the world of black theater.”

During the 2019 New York Fashion Week, IMG and Harlem’s Fashion Row came together to celebrate her legendary body of work. Watch the video above for a recap of the event.

Jessica Moulite is a Video Producer for The Root. She loves telling stories people often times can't tell themselves—and Oprah. She's probably watching Black 90s reruns.

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