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His laugh was so distinct and captivating. And his smile. It was filled with such genuine warmth that it would make anyone he encountered feel welcomed.
It was just over six years ago that I met Chadwick, styling him on a photo shoot. He was about to start press for Get On Up, in which he played James Brown. I had a vision — I was going for a ’60s British mod aesthetic — of how I wanted to style him that day. I felt very passionate about it, that he should love it or at least get it. Thankfully, Chadwick not only understood what I wanted to accomplish, but he was equally excited and collaborative throughout the shoot. That same day he asked me to be a part of his tribe. It was a day that would forever change my life.
At the start of every film’s press tour, I would chat with him about what we wanted to accomplish, styling-wise. It was important to factor in where he saw himself in that moment, his feelings, his personality, and translate that into what he was wearing. His fearlessness on the red carpet pushed boundaries and redefined what a leading man looked and dressed like.
Our fittings are some of my favorite memories. You could tell Chadwick loved an outfit because he would break out some of his James Brown dance moves. There was so much trust and understanding between us that our fittings often only lasted a few minutes. Our longest one was for the Black Panther tour, partly because we needed 15-plus looks, and mostly because we knew the importance of the film. Every outfit you saw on the red carpet was thought out, a true collaboration, and embodied the greatness of Chadwick Boseman. To have been able to be a tiny part of his journey, which so many young Black boys and girls can look up to, is the biggest honor.
One of my favorite looks is the Dzojchen suit he wore to the film’s South Korea premiere. It was so strong, elegant and striking. That was the first time I traveled with him, and it was incredible to see the excitement build with each stop on the tour. I also can’t forget the time he was the first man to ever wear Givenchy Haute Couture to the 2018 Oscars. It was so fun to collaborate with designer Clare Waight Keller; she nailed the regal and modern look I wanted.
There was only one instance in the six years we worked together where we weren’t initially on the same page. The now iconic, custom Atelier Versace white caped look he wore to the 2018 Met Gala almost didn’t happen. The theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” Chadwick wanted to go with another sketch, but because I felt so strongly that this was the look, he listened. It was a bold choice that encapsulated his fearlessness and spirituality, and it continued to inspire long after.
I will forever be grateful to all of the designers who supported us. Because of them, our work was celebrated with a cover of THR’s Stylists issue. The entire time we were at the shoot, he kept checking to see that I was having fun and taking it all in. We were still in the middle of his Black Panther press tour, but that was Chadwick. No matter how tired or busy he was, he always made time to support and celebrate the people in his life.
The biggest lesson Chadwick taught me was the importance of time. Take your time, but don’t waste your time. He will forever be an inspiration and example of what can be achieved when you find your purpose. In his own words, “Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.”
This story first appeared in the May 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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