Screening Style: Luva from Blacula (1972)

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 8.25.09 PM

Screenshot from Blacula (1972)

 

When thinking about fashionable costumes in 1970s films, there are always a few that come to mind. Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels, Faye Dunaway as Laura Mars, and Diane Keaton as Annie Hall all been mainstays for Halloween costumes, fashion lines, and even streetwear. However, someone is missing. There is little to no mention of people of color. Despite this, there are a plethora of films that have non-White characters that are incredibly fashionable. An American favorite is “Blacula” (1972), an early 1970s Blaxploitation film. One particularly stylish character in this iconic movie is Luva.

“Blacula” revamps the classic tale of Dracula with an African prince named Prince Mamuwalde, who in 1789 is turned into a vampire and is awaken in 1970s Los Angeles. Princess Luva (played by Vonetta McGee) is Prince Mamuwalde’s wife. She ends up dying early in the film, but not before she debuts a fabulous royal costume.

The Look of Luva

 

There isn’t much information on the thought or make on the costumes for this film, but the outfit’s creators are Ermon Sessions and Sandra Stewart. Sessions has worked as a costume designer for films like “Scream Blacula Scream” (1973) and “The Learning Tree” (1969), while Stewart has worked on “Paper Moon” (1973) and “Coffy” (1973).

In the film, Luva is adorned in a visual melody of African-inspired clothing and jewelry. Her neck is covered in red and white necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that mimic the cultural costume of the Maasai. She is clothed in a long black dress that is lined in a combination of gold trim and strips of kente cloth and a thick braided belt that cinches the waist. Luva’s look is topped off with a septum nose ring, Cleopatra-esque eyeliner, and an Afro, which was the hairstyle of the 1960s and 1970s Black Power Movement.

More Is Better Looking

As the fashion industry embraces diversity and different trains of thought, the concept of who and what is stylish via pop culture may expand. Although Diane Keaton as Annie Hall will always be iconic, there are other characters like Luva who can set some fabulous trends too.

 

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