While charting this path, I didn’t simply collect images; I relived memories of joy, familial bonds, and warm summers that likened my grandmother’s embrace. These images and memories came from years of a yearning for home that ended up forming my sense of self. These experiences are largely rooted in the dress practices and attitudes from back home—always showing up looking your best self. This to me represents an act of tenderness and warmth that solely exists when being amongst those who raised me. It illustrates to me that identity itself isn’t linear; it is something that constantly grows and evolves.
Throughout this collection, you will find references to the authentic foods and drinks I enjoyed as a child. Fanyogo ice creams and cornrows are often referenced in the forms of prints, embroidery, and beadings. These beads are reminiscent of the earrings my aunts would wear while getting ready for Sunday service. As a young queer child, these were romanticized moments of watching the young girls in my neighborhood getting their hair done with beads and bobos that I always wished could exist in my hair as well. Having these materials in my designs is my own way of connecting back to the childhood me that didn’t believe it would be possible to carouse these items that were always unnecessarily gendered.
An integral part of stitching together this roadmap was finding a sense of power and not lack within the intersections and gray areas of my identity. What I have brought forth here is a physical manifestation of my past, present, and future reckonings. Working with the playful silhouettes, colorful treats, and the school uniforms of my youth allowed me to create with that child-like freedom that tends to depart from us with time.
It is often thought that my culture was entirely born out of an oral history, but it is in the fabrics and the layers within time, space, and patterns that we are remembered.
Clothes in western worlds are often not made for us. When only given the option to shift between small, medium, and large, we often find ourselves reading between the lines trying to find meaning. Literally and figuratively, we craft our essences in the white spaces. The garments we make for ourselves, our families, and our communities are acts of love and form the strands of our lineages.