FIT alum, Bronx native offers runway of fashion opportunities for kids – Bronx Times
The models take their positions. The public takes place in the corridor. And ready to conquer the track — kids.
The fashion show, hosted by Jeffrey Ampratwum in collaboration with the Graham Windham Programa New York-based nonprofit that provides services to young people and their families, concluded its final summer show on August 18.
Ampratwum, a Bronx native, started a middle school fashion program in the South Bronx three years ago that strives to teach students the importance of personal image, dressing for an interview and build confidence through creative expression.
“It’s an incubator, a nurturing school for those who want to get into fashion,” he said.
Since the program’s inception, its reach has expanded from the South Bronx to different parts of the borough with the help of organizations like Graham Windham. From makeup tutorials to photo shoots to fashion talks, Ampratwum said the classes tap into students’ creativity, allowing them to gain confidence as they mature. At this last summer fashion show, which took place in Westchester County, he said it was great to see young children transform into models, photographers and stylists.
“They were really excited, happy and confident especially when they hit the track,” he said. “They don’t miss a beat.
“If I was in their shoes then, I probably wouldn’t know how much it’s going to affect me later, but I could feel it. You can see it in their smiles.
Creative fashion director and instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Ampratwum, 38, hopes to broaden college students’ knowledge of the industry and share her unconventional journey in fashion.
“That’s probably the most rewarding part of it all for me,” he said. “[The students] also feel like they’re within reach of that – it’s great for them to know what’s achievable.
He said after the shows and classes, the students started discussing careers in fashion.
“You get all these fashion professions that aren’t forced upon them at the college level,” Ampratwum said. “When they get [to high school]they can get involved in more after-school fashion programs.
Tiffany Taylor-White, a graduate of Amratwum’s Fashion Styling course at FIT, believes the innovative program prepares students for a potential career in the industry. She attended school in the Bronx, but her interest in fashion didn’t blossom until high school.
“If I think back to when I was younger, I had no influences or teachers to help me choose my path in fashion or help me perfect myself in what I love,” Taylor said. -White. “I think it’s very good to have that at this age.”
Born and raised in the Bronx by a single mother of Ghanaian descent, Ampratwum said there were few opportunities to explore a career in fashion. A creative and artistic career seemed unimaginable as the pressure mounted on him to become a doctor or a lawyer.
“There wasn’t even a thought for me to go into fashion,” Ampratwum said.
So he completed a degree in biology and dental studies with eventual plans for dental school. But fashion continued to play a role in his life, as he participated in fashion projects, fashion shows and competitions while studying.
Ampratwum quickly followed his heart and gave up on his initial career. He finally traveled to Europe at the age of 31. While in Paris, he worked with curators and creative designers and curated a successful line of vintage one-piece dresses, titled “House of Merlot”.
He was hooked.
Ampratwum returned to the United States and immediately pursued a career in fashion, he said. He attended FIT and the New York School of Design. He has since collaborated with professionals like Joseph DeAcetis, a menswear expert at Forbes, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermés.
Ampratwum described her work as an “anomaly, like a fashion unicorn”. He said this included tasteful androgynous styles for women and versatile looks, combining casual, traditional and streetwear into menswear.
But Ampratwum also continues to expand her work to children. He will collaborate with iBrainan independent non-profit educational organization focused on students with brain injuries and brain disorders, to create a fashion show on September 8.
The inclusive show will open the track for children with disabilities and brain disorders at Gotham Hall in Midtown Manhattan.
As a mother and assistant for the upcoming show, Taylor-White said she was thrilled to help and empower children to express themselves through fashion.
“Anyone can do anything – no matter your age, race, nationality, disabilities,” she said. “Celebrating these children and dressing them up, just giving them their flowers and letting them know the world is theirs means a lot to me.
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