“Black Panther” costume designer Ruth E. Carter discovered Los Angeles based fine artist—Douriean.
You’ve seen her work because the imagery of Wakanda is everywhere, rich and regal with strong nods to African tribes like the Maasai, while adding in a futuristic look. But it’s the jewelry and the breastplates, the pieces of armor worn inside this mystical place that’s been garnering the most attention and getting the biggest questions; which is, who made this tremendous work and further—where can I buy it?
The answer is Douriean. Douriean is an African-American woman whose work was well known to Ms. Carter having hired her to work on “Roots”. Carter understood that if anyone could translate her vision it would be Douriean and it was that work that’s earned her a unique spot in Costumers Union, Local 705 under the specialty/costumer/jewelry category.
“Black Panther” directed by Ryan Coogler — boasts some serious “Black StarPower” including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown and Letitia Wright.
Opening wide on February 16th the word of mouth is strong. According to the managing editor of Fandango, the film has sold more advance tickets on Fandango than any other Marvel movie, beating out “Captain America: Civil War.”
Here is an edited interview with Douriean.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Douriean, who are you?
DOURIEAN: Before any other label, before being a designer, a jewelry maker, or metal-smith, I am an artist. A creator.
LAS: It sounds like a Black fairytale having “the” Ruth E. Carter in your corner. Is this a game changer? I mean, your work is being seen on billboards, in commercials and all over social media. What’s that, about a billion dollars worth of marketing, advertising, and publicity?
D: I feel that it was destiny, quite honestly. I worked for Ruth E. Carter on a previous project, “Roots.” After working on that, I realized the potential of where my work could go in the film industry and for a while, I was having dreams of very ornate dresses made of shells, crystals, beads, and feathers. I shared with her that I was no longer interested in creating ready to wear work and wanted to create large wearable art pieces. I [also] shared with her the dream [that] I had and sketched out the pieces. Once [Ruth E. Carter] she saw them, she told me she had something in mind for me. At the time, I had no idea what the project was going to be.
LAS: So, you were able to help bring Ruth’s vision of the “ancient and the futuristic” into pieces that you made by hand?
D: Ruth liked what I consider to be an ancient yet futuristic aesthetic and with her understanding of my skill set, creativity, innovation, and work ethic, she saw it fit for me to take on such a critical role for this project.
The Dora Milaje armor that they are wearing is handcrafted metal pieces.
LAS: You call L.A. home?
D: I do. I do, and there are so many things that I love about living in California but my heart belongs in New Orleans but Cali-is all good!
LAS: Where can interested parties purchase your high-end jewelry design?
D: You can buy and inquire about my high-end work and custom pieces on my site: www.Douriean.com and can find some of the pieces in select retail stores that can be found on the site.
LAS: When I asked your entertainment licensing agent, Gladys S. Mixon, VP of Entertainment Licensing Services, what she thought of your work, this is what she said: “Douriean is the first Black woman to my knowledge that has a licensing deal covering fine jewelry with a major entertainment license. Her deal with the Walt Disney Company allows her to produce jewelry for next two Marvel Movies- “Avengers” and “Ant-Man”.
Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” opens wide February 16, 2018.
“Black Panther” has been rated “PG-13” by the MPAA Ratings Board for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.