Solange, a Houston-rooted artist that we all love and admire today released an interdiciplinary art film that revolves around her hometown, black womenhood and celebrating identity on December 12th 2019. This performance piece was an extended director's cut, a visual experience with the same name of her album "When I Get Home" It evoked so many feelings within me. It was a true visual pleasure and it made me regain a sense of faith towards a better functioning fashion industry where concepts and ideas aren't stolen from small black-owned businesses but cherished and appreciated. As Solange says: “Brown liquor, brown liquor. Brown skin, brown face. Brown leather, brown sugar. Brown leaves, brown keys. Brown creepers, brown face. Black skin, black braids. Black waves, black days. Black baes, black things.These are black-owned things.”
"A lot of my work is based on creating universes. I'm trying to create cities on stage. I want to leave behind universes for black girls to discover 10 and 20 years from now. "
Solange isn't a new name when it comes to big and impressive visuals that stick with you for a while. In "Cranes In The Sky" and "Don't Touch My Hair" we see a similar cinematography based on elevating black culture and black empowerment which are unfortunately the notions that are lacking in the mainstream media. She explains, sings and dances as an unpologetic black woman. Though classing these artistic expressions solely as "black empowerment" would be an understatement because it's not all that.
Stylist for the film Mecca James-Williams worked with talented stylists Kyle Luu and Jessica Willis. Mecca worked very hard to bring Solange’s cowboy vision to life by spending endless hours on vintage shops, trying to score the perfect suits and boots. She brought her style and the Houston culture together to create a concrete image. The stylists mixed and matched clothing items and accesories very meticulously in a way that they would come together to tell a story with the help of James-Williams to bring the desired visuals come to life. “We wanted the looks to feel like elements versus garments. They appear like a second skin, rather than a piece of clothing.” Luu explains in a Vogue Interview. Archive Helmut Lang, Telfar, Tom Ford-era Gucci, Balenciaga, Moncler by Craig Green, and Gareth Pugh all make an appareance.
Solange reclaims her roots Houston in this film and shows the viewers the America that she knows and have observed which was a big part of her upbringing. "I remember doing a fashion campaign once and remember all cowboys being white, which isn't the Americana I know." she recalls in one of her interviews. "I've seen black cowboys when I was growing up which was a big part of the American Western culture like my uncles and thousands of men who get on horses from Houston to Louisiana and do trail rides." The idea of "Black Yeehaw" is also supported by Pyer Moss and Telfar who have expressed similar sentiments by bringing the image of Black cowboys to spotlight. In the film, we see black men on horses moving past all-white painted suburban houses which is an explicit message to the fashion industry and the society in general on its own. With this interview bit backing up the film, we see how white-washed the fashion industry is by basing every cultural theme on white people. To take the power back, Solange dances with a black blazer and a cowboy hat, paying hommage to her ancestors.
In the beginning of the film, Solange dances in a glitter bikini suit which is custom-made, designed by LA-based jewellery company Lace By Tanya with matching arm pieces. She sways from side to side in a graceful way showing off her garment. She dances with a man whose face is completely covered with a glittery-mesh fabric. They are both dancing under a full moon, almost as if they are executing a ritual. Solange is known for gathering inspiration from spirutality and belief systems. In her film, we see a lady who repeats "don't do anything without intention.", who posseses a lot of crystals. This outfit pays tribute to stars, the moon and a clear sky and the fuelling energy that they bring upon us. She brightens the dark night with her shiny costume, as the moon does.
The sense of identity and community is highlighted through every look and visual. Solange doesn't leave anyone behind. Unlike the image of a classic lead who puts herself aside with a different costume, Solange disperses herself with other black women and celebrate being better and complete as a whole. The snake-skin boots designed by New York-based label Brother Vellies and black strapless suits compliment the vision and bring in an element of an unified sisterhood.
The film in general has a subtle futuristic tone. There are a lot of possible reference points that Solange might have based her vision around. Starting off, we see a woman with clear glasses that have reflections of space station lights. This once again, breaks the boundries and rooted clichés of white-people filled sci-fi movies where we don't really come across black leads. With the complimentary scene of three women in a futuristic backdrop with leather jackets, we are in a Matrix-like universe with different leads with different colors. A great alternate universe.
Solange has proved herself artistically alonside her music personality. When I Get Home sets an example for the whole industry by putting the black owned culture to the forefront without being apologetic.