An examination of the synergy between Fall/Winter 2017's 'Matrix' fashion trend + the artistry of Chakaia Booker by Janel St. John 11.1.17


It looks like every major designer took the blue pill and jumped on board Fall/Winter 2017’s ‘Matrix’ fashion trend. Whether it’s leather, pleather, vinyl or patent leather…I’m here for it! I’m lovin’ this black on black on black fashion trend in all of its’ forms. When I saw the above Maria Borges image, I immediately thought of sculptor, Chakaia Booker. I had a hunch...if I combined some Matrix fashion looks with some of Booker’s work -  there was bound to be some serious synergistic fashion-art FABULOUSNESS!! And here it is…complete with Sentinels! 

I saw Booker’s work for the first time, in Indianapolis, in 2008, during her first public art commission, Chakaia Booker: Mass Transit. It was an homage to the city’s racing history and car culture. The award-winning artist transforms old tires into fantastical outdoor geometric sculptures. She slices, twists and weaves the discarded rubber into radically new forms, reshaping them with machinery into artworks of unexpected beauty, line and texture. Her sculptures range from 8 to 16 feet tall and can weigh up to a ton.


The outdoor images are from Mass Transit and were provided courtesy of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Janelle Monáe in a dress by Alexandre Vauthier, earrings from Tiffany & Co. and a ring by Messika Paris. Photography by Nicolas Moore.

CHAKAIA BOOKER: Color of Hope, (detail) 2010 and Pass the Buck, 2008.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Booker lives and works in Manhattan and Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions, nationally and internationally.

Her first experience with shearing and cutting was in her teens, when she began to make her own clothes. To this day, her fashion signature is her own wearable art - a large elaborately wrapped headdress. She doesn't belabor the meaning of her work, but said the varied tones of the rubber parallel human diversity, while the treads suggest images as varied as African-Americans, the slavery experience, African scarification and textile designs. The discarded tires is a nod to industrialization and environmental concerns.

Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and an M.F.A. from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial with It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), her 12.5 x 21 foot wall-hung tire sculpture.

Booker has received numerous awards and grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002, the Anonymous Was a Woman Grant in 2000, the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Art Fund Award in 1999 and a 1994 Commission, through the NASA Art Program at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

In 2014 the sculptures were  in New York City’s Garment District. And can you guess what NYC called her work….“The Sentinels!”






Where to see Chakaia Booker art now



Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, DC, through Jan 21, 2018. This unprecedented exhibition known as The Black Abstract, features 21 black women artists; a celebration of their role as under-recognized leaders in abstraction.


Boeing Galleries, Millennium Park, Chicago, through April 2018.



In Madame Figaro's editorial, model Maria Borges was styled in haute couture from Schiaparelli, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Maison Margiela, Valentino, Versace, Dior and more.

You can see the entire shoot on Fashion Editorials. It is SUPER FAB!



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