Curvy Magazine recently got the chance to talk with the truly multi talented Ruth E. Strong. Ruth is an brilliant costume designer who has created wardrobe visuals for some of the most popular and iconic movies of our time such as School Daze, Do The Right Thing, The Five Heartbeats, House Party 2 , B.A.P.S. Dr. Do little 2, Baby Boy and Malcom X (just to name a few). Her most recent work will be featured in the movie “Sparkle”, The remake of the classic film originally made in 1976 arrives in theaters Friday August 17th, 2012. Sparkle is a film about the lives of three African American sisters set in the 1950’s and 1960’s starting their careers in the music business. In the 2012 remake of “Sparkle” Ruth was able to go back to that period in time and bring it to us here in the present. When speaking to Ruth about working with the star studded cast (Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Cee Lo Green, Omari Hardwick, Tamela Mann, Tiki Sumpter, Carmen Ejogo and the late great Whitney Houston) She explained that working with each one of the cast was a pleasure and once she brought them into her world of fittings and showing them how you can bring a different life to the screen by shaping the scene with the right wardrobe, each actor was rearing to go.
How did you get started in costume design?
Ruth Carter: The things that I contribute to becoming a costume designer are combinations of my love of theater at an early age, figuring out that I had a very different way of looking at things and also having a very creative family full of artist. The college I attended, even though it was not an art school they really supported the arts.
When working on a project, where do you get your inspiration for design ?
Ruth Carter: I get inspired by so many different things. It really depends on each project. I love to do some research by going out and seeing what is trendy currently. Going to boutiques in New York, Maxfield’s and Prada are examples contemporary and high end boutiques. I also get inspired with the fashion around me, taking note to what the people are wearing out on the streets, how people express their inner self through the way they dress. Traveling is also something that helps with inspiration, looking at the cultural designs of different places by country or region. Then there is fashion history, you can always go back and look at clothing history.
What do you enjoy the most about your career, and doing what you do ?
Ruth Carter: The thing I enjoy the most is doing research on a project. I love just sitting with an illustrator researching, I currently moved my office to my home so Im there with my dogs early in production exploring creative ideas. Watching the illustrator bring your ideas to life, the whole creating process. In fitting I enjoy the actors, I don’t get hung up on their personality because I will be transforming them into someone else.
With your track list of films that you have worked on, Are there any favorites ?
Ruth Carter: Absolutely. Malcom X, On that project I was the head hancho we had so much creative freedom. Such an amazing crew we were all very young doing it for the love of the art. We were hungry for it, We turned an old garage on location into a huge wardrobe the whole entire experience was amazing.
With your latest work in the movie “Sparkle” set to release in a few days, What did you enjoy the most about working with that cast ?
Ruth Carter: I enjoyed the research, a lot of beadwork. I loved working with the actors once they saw their huge design board each actor was rearing to go. I try to create an experience when you come into my world of fitting. This was particularly fun because we could play with the look, it is very much a period film so research was done on that time and anytime you get to deal with a shiny girl group its always fun.
Ruth Carter is a very well spoken , articulate and intelligent woman with many talents. Curvy Magazine feels honored to have had the opportunity to speak with her. Sparkle is in theaters nation wide this weekend. Don’t miss it!