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30th January 2020

Black in Fashion UK host new film Queen and Slim

Fashion writer Nicole Lloyd discusses how intrinsic the wardrobe of the film Queen and Slim is to its political messaging
Black in Fashion UK host new film Queen and Slim
Photo: Summery May Henry @Black in Fashion

Black in Fashion UK is a Manchester run organisation which works to promote fashion and creative initiatives for ethnic minority creatives outside London.

The objective is to provide more opportunities to network and to highlight new creative opportunities in the North. Black in Fashion UK are on a journey to reinvent the creative scene throughout the UK by hosting engaging discussions, networking events and highlighting thought-provoking content.

Their latest event highlights the fashion inspiration of the movie Queen and Slim, an American, 21st century “Bonnie and Clyde” love story directed by Melina Matsouka, written by Lena Waithe and styled by costume designer Shiona Turini. Black in Fashion provided an early screening of Queen & Slim with a Q&A segment, an exhibition powered by vague digital and an after-party, all centred on the films styling and costume.

The event saw many creatives, wearing clothes inspired by the movie’s wardrobe, gathering to share new ideas and appreciate the art circulating in the city. The night ended with great music thanks to DJ Tarzsa and was complimented with performances by  Renzniro & Image, followed by Tobisunmola. 

Queen and Slim depicts the issues of police brutality in today’s society through the experiences of two lovers. The stylists and costume designers wanted the clothes to speak for themselves, making a statement in their boldness.

The costumes are culled from a world of rich cultural sources, such as 70s and southern hip-hop sensibilities, which represented different cultural references. They also help the director establish character differentiation whilst condemning respectability politics (moralistic expectations about how marginalised groups should present themselves). The film make statements through context, subliminal messages and fashion; Lena Waithe refers to the movie as ‘political art’. 

The characters each have their distinctive styles. The female lead, Queen’s, signature look featured in much of the publicity for the film; combined of a zebra mini dress, and snake print boots. The animal print contrast creates a visual fashion statement of non-rule abiding. Distinctively, Slims statement, red velour tracksuit pays homage to 90s hip hop fashion.

The clothes are deliberately non-conforming but they also have a practical element. Turini commented, “So much of the movie is at night, so it had to be a colour that was rich enough to stand out in the darkness, but not super bright on the run in the daylight.”

The crew camera tested dozens of different kinds of reds in different textures in order to find the right look. Other impactful characters included Uncle Earl who sported an iconic Gucci Dapper Dan tracksuit, which was loud and attention grabbing to reflect his personality.

Overall, each character’s wardrobe represents different takes on African American experiences, highlighting how fundamental the clothing in this film is to its messaging.

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