After having dressed some of Dallas’ most well-known musicians, including Bobby Sessions and Dorrough, it was only a matter of time before Charles Smith II’s designs received the coveted Knowles seal of approval.
Last Friday, Solange released her fourth studio album, When I Get Home. The album was accompanied by a short performance art film, which contains a scene featuring costumes Smith designed.
When I Get Home is heavily influenced by Texas hip-hop culture, complete with chopped and screwed sound bites, trunk-rattling beats and smooth jazz. Smith says Solange wanted to encompass a multitude of Texas elements in this project.
“Solange’s assistant reached out to a lot of Texas creatives,” Smith says. “We ended up doing a lot of FaceTime, because I couldn’t physically be at the set.”
Smith first met Solange in 2016, at a Francesco Carrozzini photography exhibit in New York City, which took place shortly before the release of her third studio album, A Seat at the Table. Solange had already begun to conceive ideas for When I Get Home nearly three years before its release, Smith says.
“She started talking about her visions, and she literally told us about this project, and then she was like, ‘Don’t tell nobody,’” Smith recalls. “It’s interesting to hear about it then and see all of those ideas come full circle. It makes you understand someone’s vision and how long it takes to get it how you want it.”
Smith was later approached to design costumes for a scene in When I Get Home. He received fabric in a Lyft, which delivered the product from Houston to Dallas. Upon receiving the fabric, he went to the drawing boards, produced the costumes and sent them back to Houston in a Lyft, all in a span of 48 hours.
“Everything moved so fast,” Smith says. “They just sent me all the measurements, so I made it exactly. I had to do the pattern making, the construction making, then send it back.”
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Between then and the release of When I Get Home, Solange and her team kept mum about the project. Smith didn’t even know when the album or short film would release until literally hours before.
“They didn’t tell any of us anything,” Smith says, “but that’s kind of how the Knowles clan does things. But it’s still a gratifying feeling to see your vision come to life, especially when you don’t know when it’s dropping. You’re just watching and then you’re like, ‘Oh, shit. I did this!’”
Despite not being able to be physically present during the production, Smith says he had a pleasant experience working with Solange and holds a deep admiration for the Houston-native singer-songwriter and her craft.
“She sees every little detail,” Smith says. “She’s able to explain how she wants things shot, how she wants to see things, how she wants the camera angled. She’s a true visionary.”