Ruth E. Carter’s resume as a costume designer reads like a roll call of some of the most culturally significant films of the past three decades: Malcom XSelma, Do the Right ThingWhat’s Love Got to Do With It?Mo’ Better Blues. But her latest film, the revolutionary and deservedly much-hyped Black Panther, might be her most notable project yet. With over 1,000 costumes that she conceptualized and created for fantastical world of Wakanda — drawing inspiration from Afropunk fashion and traditional African tribal garments — it seems fitting that Carter calls Black Panther the most challenging, but ultimately most fulfilling film she’s worked on yet.

Carter, the first African-American costume designer to be nominated for an Academy Award — she was nominated for 1992’s Malcom X and 1997’s Amistad — spoke to TIME ahead of Black Panther’s release on Feb. 16 about the film’s Afrofuturist costumes, the real-life superheroes she designed costumes for before Marvel and how Spike Lee helped her get her start in Hollywood.

Read the full interview: