Oscar® winning Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter collaborates with Master Couturier JJ Valaya for Amazon Original Movie Coming 2 America

05 . Mar . 2021
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Starring Eddie Murphy in the lead, Amazon Original Movie Coming 2 America released globally on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service on March 5, 2021. Coming 2 America is the sequel to the 1988 American blockbuster hit Coming To America that went on to become a cult film not just for its comedy but also for putting the African-American culture and fashion on the global map. Like the first edition, the much-awaited sequel continues to celebrate fashion through its exquisite costumes designed by the most recent Hollywood Walk of Fame Star recipient and Oscar® winner Ruth E. Carter, who collaborated with fashion designers from across three continents, including JJ Valaya from India.

 To bring through the magnificence and distinction in the costumes, Ms. Carter contacted and joined forces with couturiers including JJ Valaya of India, Maxhosa Africa by Laduma Ngxokolo and Palesa Mokumbung from South Africa, and started working out on ideas about fabrics, colours, and costumes, etc.

 Speaking of taking up the responsibility to match-up the fashion quotient of the original, Ruth E Carter said, “I have a great respect for the first film and its influence on culture. It was the first time in cinema that we’d seen African royalty in such a grand way and there was a lot to draw from. I realized that we could take Zamunda from 30 years ago and bring it into the 2020’s, so that’s what I tried to do. I knew there were going to be a whole lot of costumes, which was exciting to me. I wanted to take inspiration from all over the world hence decided to collaborate with couturiers from across the globe. The distinction in the costumes has only added to the visual delight.”

On this special collaboration, JJ Valaya says, “The resplendent costumes, ranging from gowns to capes to various items of menswear have been created with strong undertones of the African society and are replete with bold colors, textured motifs, dramatic patterns and interesting silhouettes. Breaking away from the traditional Valaya color palette, a refreshing change in terms of treatment, prints, fabrics and the celebrated intricate Valaya embroidery has been used to bring to life this modern period drama.”

 Valaya feels that understanding the plot, setting and the characters is a prerequisite to design, a process which was made exceedingly easy and transparent due to the constant support and inputs that he received from Ms. Carter. Bridging a parallel between the theatrical production that a typical Indian wedding takes, Valaya is a strong believer that the African society is quite similar to our Indian culture in terms of splendor. Therefore, it was simpler to understand the scale that this project required.

 With the leading protagonist as celebrated actor, Eddie Murphy and renowned costume designer Ruth E. Carter, (the second costume designer with a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star to her credentials), approaching an Indian designer, Valaya has truly marked a spot for Indian fashion on the international map. The project is a live example of cross-pollination of ideas, cultures and talent across continents and showcases a unique integration.

Directed by Craig Brewer, Coming 2 America stars Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, with Wesley Snipes and James Earl Jones. Also starring John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha, Bella Murphy, the Amazon Original Movie is premiering globally on March 5th 2021.