My great-great-grandmother was able to come to the United States thanks to fashion.
She was a dress maker. And through her craft, she cobbled together enough money to bring herself and three young daughters to Boston after her husband died.
Even though they were poor and lived in Roxbury, the girls always looked stunning.
What they wore, the dresses they made with their own hands, was an advertisement for their business.
I never knew why I cared so much about each outfit I put on. Or why my mother always dressed to the nines and pored over glossy fashion magazines to keep up on the latest trends.
Sometimes I felt ashamed that I cared about something many consider frivolous and vain.
But when I recently learned that it was because of fashion that my ancestors were able to come to America, a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.
Fashion is in my blood. It's officially part of my DNA. And it's now a source of pride because the female line of my family fed their children by using their hands to turn fabric into art.
So when photographer Kevin Richards asked me to pose for his portrait series, I was flattered.
The series is shot in black and white film, showing different types of people, from different walks of life.
I wanted my photo to capture my heritage.
My outfit wasn't expensive: $12 for the dress, $10 for the hat. But fashion doesn't have to cost a lot to scream "style."
So I dedicate this photo to my great-great-grandmother. Thank you, Mary McKinnon Gillis, for bringing your daughters to the U.S., and for passing on your passion for style.
I wear my red lipstick with pride.
Posted by Katherine Boyd. Posted In : Cleveland