Creating this look for Forest Whitaker was not simple. Modeled after the “Agbada” found amongst the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, West Africa, this garment consisted of four layers: Awosake, Awotele, Sokoto, and an Accent layer.
1. The top layer, the “awosoke” consist of 200 silk tubes joined together in a successive order that allowed it to have this orderly yet free flowing drape. I mixed in rope that was dyed to match to give it dimension. It was crafted by a seamstress sewing together 2″ silk bias strips for 4 days. I worked with her on her table everyday laying out the order of the tubular shapes and mixing in the dyed rope to create the perfect combinations and lengths. It was made similar to a poncho. We repeatedly put it on the form to examined it. This resulted in adding more loose silk strips down the back of the garment to allow it have movement and to blow.
2. The next layer is the undercoat, calling it the “awotele”. It too is made of silk and was pressed in pleats in the Issey Miyaki style. Underneath that coat, he is wearing a light weight black tunic with long sleeves and large cuffs. The black cuffs can be seen on the outside of the coat. I then used small silver metals made by the Tuareg people of the Sahara desert. Using Tuareg pieces highlighted their intricate use of design in their silversmithing. Each piece of Tuareg jewelry has a special meaning. Combining the different cultures made Forest, the Wakandan Shaman, one that did not represent just one culture. Something that we discussed.
3. To create the accent layer, long beaded front piece was made of tiny beads. The neck piece was crafted out of rope wrapped in leather and joined in the back by magnets.
4. The final layer is are a pair of long red trousers, the “sokoto”.