Wickertfamily Store – Movements Graffiti shirt

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I spent as much time as I could at my mother’s atelier, where she made dresses and suits for actresses, society ladies and wives of diplomats and heads of state. From 1972 to 1978, before he too was deposed in a coup, the president was Ignatius Acheampong and his wife was one of my mother’s favorite clients. I’d go with her for fittings to the presidential palace, with its high stone walls and air conditioner blasting. She liked my help, as I knew how to keep quiet and behave. And she liked that I took an interest in what she did. She had notebooks filled with sketches and she’d also often work on loose-leaf paper, dividing one sheet into nine squares, drawing a different look inside each. I’d imitate her all the time and still do today when I’m brainstorming an editorial of multiple pages, grabbing a sheet of paper and drawing those same nine squares.

Movements Graffiti shirt

Her workshop was where I discovered how fashion really works. My mother was discreet with her clients, quiet and shy. She’d show them fabrics and take their measurements and together they’d decide on an idea. When her clients came in for their fittings, or when she’d go to their homes, I’d be there, just as silent and serious, to help my mother zip them in. I learned how to fasten a hook and eye without pawing someone and how clothing works technically on a woman’s body. I saw from my mother’s example how to talk to women about clothes and work with them to come to new ideas. I learned to recognize the expression on a woman’s face when she turns to look at herself in a new dress and finds what she sees really beautiful. And also how she knows when it’s not quite right. You can imagine how this has come in handy as a stylist. These days, Rihanna or Taylor Swift need only move a millimeter of their faces for me to know if it’s love or hate.

Movements Graffiti s Hoodie

I was transported by the whole experience of the workshop: the colors, the fabrics, the loving attention of my mother and her staff. It lit up my imagination. I’d sit under my mother’s cutting table, surrounded by scraps of wax fabric, and fill my own notebooks with ladies in elaborate dresses like she did. I never imagined, then, that I’d make a career out of fashion—it never occurred to me until I was much older that it was even a possibility. In Tema, one of my aunts had a hair salon called Dolly Dots. I loved my aunt, and I felt totally at home in that very female space, but I wasn’t there for the hair. I was there for the magazines. Every month, she would have Ebony, Jet and Time delivered. It was a big deal in Ghana to get American magazines. I’d devour the photos of Diana Ross and Jayne Kennedy and Donna Summer and the Somali model Iman. All these fabulous Black goddesses in fantasy settings, or in career looks, or on the beach, their eyes fixed on the camera. I felt their eyes connect with mine, like they were looking right at me. I would sketch them in asymmetrical off-the-shoulder dresses, teased hair and a block heel.

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