As far as cult directors go, Spike Lee has an oeuvre to marvel over. From She’s Gotta Have It to Chi-Raq, Lee’s cinematic exploration of the African-American experience has made him a living legend. Earlier this month marked the release of his latest film BlacKkKlansman, so, in a homage to the director, we’ve decided to take a look at his most stylish movies to date.
STYLE AND CULTURE
STYLE LESSONS FROM SPIKE LEE FILMS
By Lakeisha Goedluck, August 28, 2018
She's Gotta Have It
The first "Spike Lee joint," She’s Gotta Have It was released back in 1986 to critical acclaim. Filmed in black and white, the comedy-drama is seminal in the fact that the narrative is centered around the sexual experience of its black female protagonist, Nola Darling. Navigating '80s New York as a polyamorous painter, Nola decides to date three very different guys at once.
Jamie Overstreet, Greer Childs and Mars Blackmon — the latter played by Lee himself — all vie for her affection. In the Netflix adaptation that was released last year, Anthony Ramos plays Mars —complete with the original character’s snapback hat, oversized glasses and penchant for sportswear. So, to emulate his style, copy those key pieces and throw in some relaxed pants and a fresh pair of kicks.
Do the Right Thing
Set in '80s Brooklyn, Do the Right Thing outlines the themes of police brutality and racial tension. Lee portrays Mookie, a disinterested delivery driver who works at his local pizzeria. Sal (Danny Aiello), who owns the pizzeria, gets into a confrontation with Mookie’s loud-mouthed friend Buggin’ Out — played by Giancarlo Esposito — over the lack of black celebrities on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame.
Featuring a heady R&B and hip-hop-heavy soundtrack, music is an integral part of the film. Samuel L. Jackson’s role as Mister Senõr Love Daddy — the resident commentator-cum-pacifist — is vital to the narrative, and his wardrobe choices match his vibrant personality. To mirror the man who knows his music, don an in-your-face Hawaiian shirt and throw in an equally conspicuous bucket hat if you're feeling ostentatious.
Soundtracked by famed musician Stevie Wonder, Wesley Snipes plays Flipper Purify — a married architect who begins an affair with his Italian-American temp secretary, Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra).
With Samuel L. Jackson as Flipper’s drug-addicted brother Gator and John Turturro as Angie’s spurned high-school boyfriend Paulie, the story explores romance in the face of racism in '90s New York. Meek and mild-mannered, Paulie’s integrity and sense of style are his most admirable qualities. Often dressed in a simple T-shirt and cardigan, throw in some slim-fit jeans and Converse kicks to update his aesthetic.
As is typical of auteurs, both Samuel L. Jackson and Wesley Snipes return in this film/musical that sees Teyonah Parris star as Lysistrata opposite Nick Cannon, who plays the title role of Demetrius, AKA Chi-Raq. Based on the work of the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, the plot sees the women of Chicago’s Southside come together to enforce a sex strike in order to incentivize the men in their lives to cease their violent behavior.
Lee handles prominent topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, gun violence and black female agency with deftness, applying comedy where the opposite is usually employed in reference to such issues. If you’re a fan of streetwear, make like Chi-Raq who routinely rocks a white tank, utilitarian accessories and something baggy on his bottom half.
You’ve probably gathered by now, but Lee certainly has an aptitude for condensing prevalent issues relative to black America into a highly entertaining 120-minute-or-less package. For his latest venture produced by Jordan Peele (the brains behind the hugely successful Get Out), the director has decided to tell the real-life story of Ron Stallworth — an African-American police detective who masterminds a plan to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan.
Starring John David Washington (who appeared in Lee’s 1992 biographical film Malcolm X alongside his father Denzel Washington), the dramatization is set in '70s Colorado. It should come as no surprise then that you can expect to see Stallworth dressed in retro logo sweatshirts, boxy jackets and jazzy waistcoats teamed with vibrant turtleneck. Jump on his style and go for a sturdy denim jacket teamed with a standout sweater of your choice.