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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
My Fashionable Journey: A Memoir of Determination and Perseverance by Cheryl C.C. McKenzie chronicles the path taken by the author in the pursuit of a career in the fashion industry. McKenzie begins in the latter half of the 20th century with her having been stranded at JFK when her flight from her home in Jamaica lands with nobody to pick her up, and with no contact information to find her friends. She is taken in by a kind stranger McKenzie refers to as her guardian angel and is eventually connected with her friends. She finds work and an apartment, leaving behind the friends who had done the same to her. From here her prospects of employment begin to rise and the catalyst for formal education and a series of work in the field sets in motion her greatest desire: her own fashion studio designing couture one-of-a-kind garments.
Choosing to read a memoir written by an individual we do not know and have not heard of, even if they are respected and known in their professional industry, is uncommon. I am not familiar with the intricacies of the fashion world except as a consumer, but something about Cheryl C.C. McKenzie and the promise of inspiration in My Fashionable Journey struck a chord. I read it, and am so glad that I did. First, the throwback to New York in the late '70s and '80s is an absolute delight, particularly with McKenzie's inclusion of photographs of her designs and the people wearing them. And second, a single woman who steps off a plane from Jamaica and within a handful of years has earned her BA and made a roaring success of her life completely and entirely on her own is spectacular. And finally, pulling all of this together and putting it into the perspective of these accomplishments being achieved by a strong woman of color—well, as a parent to a young woman in a similar situation, this might just be the best memoir I could pass on to my daughter. The writing is simple, straightforward, and engaging throughout. McKenzie has a firm, clear voice that transcends the page. The photography is crisp and the overall story is inspirational, and I am so grateful to have read it.