These hairy high heels have a surprising connection to 'Black Panther' and natural hair

On Monday night, stars from the highly-anticipated Black Panther  film, including Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, attended the film’s “Welcome to Wakanda” NYFW event.

Marvel & Disney tapped Aurora James of Brother Vellies to create an exclusive capsule collection inspired by the film. Although all the pieces are beautiful, the inspiration behind the shoes made them truly made them stand out.

“The shoes themselves actually went through a lot of iterations and ideas… [but] over the last 72 hours I reworked everything and focused on some of the narratives and insecurities that I’ve had…as a woman of color,” James tells Yahoo Lifestyle. The shoes depict the fashion designer’s “own struggles and issues with hair and how our hair is seen and perceived.” A struggle often had by women of color between choosing to showcase their beautiful natural hair or not.

The designer references one particular pair of shoes, a pair of textured snakeskin boots where one foot features a curly exterior made of a fibrous material called sisal. The other foot features layers of stick straight sisal fibers— a material James often uses in her work and one she sources directly from Haiti and regions in Africa.

Additionally, the fashion presentation included bespoke looks inspired by the films’ characters by Sophie Theallet, LaQuan Smith, Chromat, Cushnie et Ochs, Fear of God, Ikré Jones, and Tome. For Chromat, creative director, Becca McCharen had one of her designers, Tolu Ameru take the lead on the design. Ameru, who is Nigerian, drew upon her roots, her mother, and Chromat’s own ethos on female empowerment and inclusivity to inform the final product. It is the only plus size dress featured in the collection and is made of a special Ankara fabric. However, all of these custom looks spoke to themes of empowerment, individuality, and inclusivity and will be auctioned off to benefit Save the Children following the event.

NYFW this season continues to be a platform designers use to voice their thoughts and opinions on current social, cultural, and political issues. In an era when #MeToo is an all-too-real reality, female empowerment and inclusivity on race, gender, and sexuality continue to be pertinent themes fashion designers will decide to address — or not — in their shows.

Though, for the few that have so far, they are letting their designs “speak” for themselves. A departure from recent seasons where statement tees proliferated the runway, almost “screaming” as one Vanity Fair writer suggests. Designers are going back to basics. Using their clothes—from the colors, down to the silhouettes, cuts, and fabrics to inform their voice. Yes, you have to dig a little deeper to find the underlying hidden messages. But that’s the great part about fashion, it doesn’t have to be obvious. As for what we have discovered so far? Messages that speak to race, sexism, and sexual harassment—all issues that currently, and unfortunately, still plague our society

At Milly‘s show, we found a vibrantly colored series of workwear to evening wear: tailored separates, cocktail dresses, knits and blouses in shades like crimson red, canary yellow, cobalt blue, emerald, and fuchsia. The show featured a diverse set of models, including a male model wearing a silver fringy top, metallic trousers, and shiny silver heeled booties. It was without question, a beautiful collection. But there’s more to it. The collection, titled “Chromatic,” was a representation of all of us.

According to Michelle Smith, co-founder and creative director of Milly, we each represent a  unique color, a unique personality, but we are stronger together, like a “beautiful rainbow.” The collection was “a vibrant expression of love, inclusiveness and the desire for equality. Our individuality is our greatest strength, and beautiful things can happen when we all come together,” says Smith in a press statement. For this designer, her collection “spoke” to the greater need for equality in both race, sexuality, and gender.

However, Hillary Taymour of underground label Collina Strada took a different approach. Taymour staged an imaginary wedding straying from the usual fashion model archetypes, and instead cast a wide net of young and old men and women— even a baby, to be part of an imaginary wedding, but not between two people, for oneself. The theme was “higher self.” As stated in the show notes, “You cannot start to love another until you love yourself, so why not marry your higher self?” The collection did include a wedding dress, per se, but incorporated cargo pants which might be an ode to the connection between the power of pantsuits and feminism.

“Amidst the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement I felt it is necessary to stop with the anger and turn back to love. This collection focuses on how a human should feel safe to dress however she/he or they choose. From sexy to frumpy.”

Are statement tees on the way out? Maybe. But as shown, that doesn’t mean you can’t use fashion to convey more than just clothes.

Ahead, see all of the “hidden” messages found in key sartorial moments throughout fashion week.

Tom Ford debuts sexy men’s flesh-tone undies at NYFW: So Zoolander! 
Inclusive cast of models, including an amputee and a baby, kick off New York Fashion Week
Your 2018 wardrobe shopping guide, according to 5 fashion retail experts 

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

<p>Designed by Aurora James of Brother Vellies, the shoes were inspired by her insecurites as a woman of color and her “own struggles and issues with hair and how our hair is seen and perceived.” (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Brother Vellies

Designed by Aurora James of Brother Vellies, the shoes were inspired by her insecurites as a woman of color and her “own struggles and issues with hair and how our hair is seen and perceived.” (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Lupita Nyong’o poses with the models from the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW Presentation

Lupita Nyong’o poses with the models from the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a besoke dress design by Tolu Aremu and Becca McCharren of Chromat at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Chromat

Model wears a besoke dress design by Tolu Aremu and Becca McCharren of Chromat at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a woven embroidered dress with feather waist band by Sophie Theallet at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Sophie Theallet

Model wears a woven embroidered dress with feather waist band by Sophie Theallet at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a gold, velvety embellished dress by Cushnie et Ochs at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Cushnie et Ochs

Model wears a gold, velvety embellished dress by Cushnie et Ochs at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a black sequin robe and jumpsuit designed by LaQuan Smith at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
LaQuan Smith

Model wears a black sequin robe and jumpsuit designed by LaQuan Smith at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a maximalist style print suit, coat and scarf design by Ikré Jones at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Ikré Jones

Model wears a maximalist style print suit, coat and scarf design by Ikré Jones at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a letterman jacket with ‘Black Panther’ on the back designed by Feat of God at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty) </p>
Fear of God

Model wears a letterman jacket with ‘Black Panther’ on the back designed by Feat of God at the Black Panther Welcome to Wakanda NYFW fashion presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios Black Panther/Getty)

<p>Model wears a crimson red pantsuit and bandeau at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears a crimson red pantsuit and bandeau at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model wears a canary yellow coat, skirt, boots and multicolor top at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears a canary yellow coat, skirt, boots and multicolor top at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model wears an emerald fur coat and silk dress at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears an emerald fur coat and silk dress at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Models wears a monochromatic cobalt blue top and trousers at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Models wears a monochromatic cobalt blue top and trousers at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model wears a fuchsia evening jumpsuit at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears a fuchsia evening jumpsuit at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model wears a fuchsia coat, crop top, skirt, and booties at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears a fuchsia coat, crop top, skirt, and booties at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model wears a burgundy top, red trousers, and purple puffer jacket at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears a burgundy top, red trousers, and purple puffer jacket at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Male model wears a silvery shimmery top, sequin trousers and silver booties at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Male model wears a silvery shimmery top, sequin trousers and silver booties at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model wears a metallic sequin top and skirt at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler) </p>
Milly

Model wears a metallic sequin top and skirt at the Milly Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Courtesy of Greg Kessler)

<p>Model mimics a bride in a bridal pantsuit look at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo) </p>
Collina Strada

Model mimics a bride in a bridal pantsuit look at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo)

<p>Older female model wears a bell sleeve dress at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo) </p>
Collina Strada

Older female model wears a bell sleeve dress at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo)

<p>Model wears an orange crushed velvet robe and trousers while carrying a baby at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo) </p>
Collina Strada

Model wears an orange crushed velvet robe and trousers while carrying a baby at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo)

<p>Twin models in matching yellow dresses at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo) </p>
Collina Strada

Twin models in matching yellow dresses at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo)

<p>Older female model wears leopard zip jacket and trouser set at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo) </p>
Collina Strada

Older female model wears leopard zip jacket and trouser set at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo)

<p>Older male model wears a yellow robe and leopard trousers at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo) </p>
Collina Strada

Older male model wears a yellow robe and leopard trousers at the Collina Strada Fall/Winter 2018 show. (Photo: Jonathan Hokklo)

What to read next