Behind the Protest Uniform of the Black Panther Party in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Costume designer Charlese Antoinette Jones speaks to L’OFFICIEL about amplifying the story of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton through 1969 fashion in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

As a Black creator herself, this project carries significance not only for the history of Jones’ community but for its future, too. More Black filmmakers are telling their stories, educating, enlightening, and calling others to action through their work. Jones especially seeks to amplify Black voices in the fashion and entertainment spaces. In addition to her career as a costume designer, Jones also owns a jewelry line, Char Ant Gold, and is the founder of Black Designer Database, a community for Black designers to connect with new clients and media opportunities.

Reflecting back on the fashion in Judas and the Black Messiah, Jones notes that while the Black Panthers’ uniform offers a distinct historical marker of how the Black community has shaped contemporary fashion, the overall time period was rich with various social and cultural influences. “There were so many counter-culture styles emerging,” she says. “You had hippies, you had bohemians, you had the Panthers and various other political organizations that had uniforms, and it was just an amazing time in establishing what is modern in American clothing.”

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