'Black Panther' Jewelry Designer Says Her Goal Is To Help People Feel Strong Douriean Fletcher made the powerful adornments worn in the 2018 film Black Panther. She's happy to see people "taking chances" with their jewelry — breaking away from the "dainty pair of hoops."
NPR logo

The Goal Is To Feel Strong, Says 'Black Panther' Jewelry Designer

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/735821196/737393666" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Goal Is To Feel Strong, Says 'Black Panther' Jewelry Designer

The Goal Is To Feel Strong, Says 'Black Panther' Jewelry Designer

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/735821196/737393666" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Marvel Comics has a jewelry designer. Douriean Fletcher is the company's first licensed jewelry maker. She's the mind behind the deeply powerful accessories on the women of Wakanda from Marvel's "Black Panther" film. Her accessories helped pull audiences into an imagined world where power and societal roles are based on expertise and ability. Later today she's giving a talk at the National Museum of Women in the Arts about the aesthetics of gender equity in Wakandan society. And she joins us now to give us a preview.

Hi.

DOURIEAN FLETCHER: Hi, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You were part of Ruth Carter's team. And of course, she won the Oscar for best costume design. And you were brought on specifically for the jewelry work. Let's remind people what the jewelry and metalwork elements of those costumes were.

FLETCHER: A lot of the work that I focused on was the armor for the Dora Milaje. So...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that was for the all-female bodyguards group.

FLETCHER: Yes, so the armor on their shoulders and the pieces on their feet, their necklaces - and then some other fine adornments that you'll see if you take a closer look. Like, their buckles were panthers. And they were plated in gold and silver. And I think we did a little of this black plating - and then some other - some other pieces, so bigger necklaces, bigger earrings, big cuffs, things of that nature.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what was important to you as you made these designs within the world of Wakanda? Because it's a society that was, you know, envisioned as utopian in its - in the way that it treats gender and race.

FLETCHER: So what was important to me initially, before I had even read the script or had been on set, was to make sure that I got the pieces right. I had understood that I'm part of a legacy that's being experienced right now. I mean, it was still making sure that Ruth had what she needed. But then it also had expanded to making sure that I was representing what African-inspired jewelry looks like and what - what purpose it serves.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Talk to us a little bit about the piece you made for Queen Ramonda, the Angela Bassett character.

FLETCHER: Well, this is my favorite piece that I had created for her. And what the vision was, was because she is the queen mother, she is the feminine and strong and powerful voice and the voice of guidance and comfort for T'Challa, Black Panther. The metal piece, it's gold. And behind the gold, there's this plate that looks like a tuning fork. And initially, when I made it, the designs were pretty simple.

And when Ruth saw it, she said, you need to make this more Wakandan; you need to add more of your flavor. So then what I did was added amethyst pieces to it and my own aesthetic and my own wirework to give it more of a - like, a spiritual narrative. So it was definitely a piece of power.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you want people to feel when they're wearing your jewelry?

FLETCHER: Now, being a new mother, I feel like what - my messaging is shifting a little bit because at first, being a noncommunicative tool to tell others who one is. And now things are shifting. And I really just want people to feel really strong within themselves. Like, it's more of a internal desire to feel good because I know, like, as a new mother, I just need something to make me feel good sometimes and make me feel powerful and make me feel capable with all of the new things that I'm learning.

And so I want to make sure that I can give that to somebody else - not just because it looks pretty or for aesthetic purposes, but I really want people to have that self-confidence and understanding of how special they are.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Douriean Fletcher, Marvel's first licensed jewelry designer.

Thank you so much.

FLETCHER: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.