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STYLE AND CULTURE

STYLE LESSONS FROM SPIKE LEE FILMS

By Lakeisha Goedluck, 24 August 2018

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. Today marks the UK 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.

A still from the Netflix adaptation of She's Gotta Have It | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Netflix

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 centred 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. 

A street-styler wearing a snapback, hoodie, trousers, Reebok trainers and sunglasses | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

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 trews and a fresh pair of kicks.

Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Senõr Love Daddy in Do the Right Thing | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Rex

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.

A model wearing a Hawaiian shirt and jeans | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

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.

John Turturro as Paulie in Jungle Fever | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Rex

Jungle Fever

‘Jungle Fever’ is a slang term used to denote when a white person is attracted to a black person, and this is the premise of Lee’s 1991 flick. 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).

A model wearing a striped T-shirt, knitted cardigan, leather jacket, beanie, jeans and Converse trainers | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

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 creps to update his aesthetic.
Nick Cannon as Chi-Raq | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Rex

Chi-Raq

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 incentivise the men in their lives to cease their violent behaviour.

A street-styler wearing a white vest, shorts, chains and a camo-print vest | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

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 vest, utilitarian accessories and something baggy on his bottom half.

A still from BlacKkKlansman | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Rex

BlacKkKlansman

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.

A street-styler wearing a denim jacket, camo-print jumper, trousers and Nike Spiridon trainers | ASOS Style Feed

Picture: Getty

Starring John David Washington (who appeared in Lee’s 1992 biographical film Malcolm X alongside his father Denzel Washington), the dramatisation 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 roll necks. Jump on his style and go for a sturdy denim jacket teamed with a standout jumper of your choice.

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