The Panthers were an iconic group in the Civil Rights movement, and their style was just as iconic. The group was known for wearing all black, which served as a symbol of strength and unity. In addition to their all-black ensembles, the Panthers also donned berets and leather jackets. Their style was both practical and political, and it helped them to stand out in a time when they needed to be heard.
The Background of the Iconic Dress
The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966, in Oakland, California. The party’s original purpose was to patrol black neighborhoods to protect residents from police brutality. As the party grew, it became more involved in political activism and community programs.
One of the most recognizable symbols of the Black Panther Party is the black beret. Party members often wore black berets with a gold emblem on the front. The emblem consisted of a raised fist inside a circle with a star in the center. This symbol represented the party’s commitment to black power and self-defense.
The Black Panther Party also popularized the wearing of all-black clothing as a political statement. Members would often dress in black leather jackets, pants, and shirts. This “uniform” helped to create a sense of solidarity among party members and served as a visual representation of their commitment to defend African Americans against racism and oppression.
The Design of the Dress
The design of the dress is inspired by the work of French designers. It is a sleeveless sheath dress with a high neckline and a fitted bodice. The dress is made of black wool crepe and is lined with silk charmeuse. The hem of the dress is scalloped and falls just below the knee.
The Significance of the Dress
In the film “The Panther”, the titular characters are a group of African American men who dress in black berets and leather jackets to symbolize their unity and strength. The film’s costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, said that she wanted the Panthers’ outfits to convey “a sense of power, a sense of pride, and a sense of unity”. The black beret and leather jacket became an iconic look for the Panthers, and helped to solidify their image as a powerful political force.
The significance of the dress worn by the Panthers is twofold. First, it is a visual representation of their solidarity as a group. The unified look of the black berets and leather jackets conveys a sense of strength and purpose. Secondly, the dress also represents the Panthers’ commitment to their political beliefs. The black beret was originally worn by Revolutionary War soldiers, and later by Fidel Castro’s Cuban rebels. By appropriating this symbol of rebellion, the Panthers were making a clear statement about their own commitment to fighting for social justice.
The Panthers made a fashion statement with their all-black attire at the 2016 BET Awards. The group was matching from head-to-toe in black turtlenecks, jackets, pants and shoes. This look has been dubbed as the “new power suit” by some and it’s easy to see why. The sleek, coordinated look is both powerful and stylish.