African Diaspora, Black Russia

Designer Beatrice Arthur was born in Odessa with Russian, Polish, German and Ghanaian roots

Hat tip: Euromight

Source: Bee Arthur

Bee Arthur is an adventurous and flamboyant fashion guru whose label B’EXOTIQ has resonated across the African continent and beyond for over a decade. In 2001, Bee’s originality won her the highly coveted KORA FASHION AWARD in Sun City in 2001 and thus established her reputation within the elite African fashion designers’ community.

Bee

Having recently embarked on a solo career, B’EXOTIQ is poised to continue exploring her African heritage and to synergize it with her Russian roots. It is this ingenious blend of African and European cultures, this expression of love and respect for symbolism and craftsmanship from different parts of the world, this collage of textures and colors that continues to makes Bee’s style particularly distinct.

Bee Arthur is of Ghanaian and Russian heritage. She studied art in Ukraine, and then acquired a BA in Sociology & Spanish, University of Ghana. Bee speaks fluently in Spanish, French, Russian and English. She loves reading and gardening. Her penchant for fashion started at an early age but she became a professional designer by chance.

A Chat with Beatrice Arthur

Beatrice Arthur and Richard B (aka Pearl Richards of www.awuraba.com) chat about the inspiration behind B’ExotiQ Designs and winning the 2001 KORA Fashion Award.

There is nothing common about Beatrice Arthur. Bee was born in the port city of Odessa ( Ukraine) – a city famous not only for its melting pot of cultures, but also for Ballet and Operatic singers and Art. Her heritage is a cocktail of diverse cultures : Russian, Polish, German and Ghanaian. Growing up in a Communist Soviet Union was a psychologically and emotionally “violent” experience for a person of mixed heritage: Bee was always reminded that she was “exotic” and “unusual” and “different”.

Rather than feel odd, not having to blend with the crowd allowed Bee total freedom of thought and expression. As an adolescent, Bee transformed all her “boring” garments with sewing accessories that she found on sunday flea-markets in Odessa. She recycled buttons, pockets, sleeves, embroidery – anything !!- to “pimp up” rather banal-looking clothes into something fun and funky and trendy.

Today, 20 years after returning to Accra from Odessa to join the rest of her family, Bee is a celebrated designer in Ghana and in Africa. After acquiring a BA in Spanish Literature, Linguistics and Sociology at the University of Ghana in 2000, Bee Arthur shocked the African Fashion scene by participating and winning the Kora Fashion Award in Sun City in 2001. This endorsement by the Fashion & Music community decidedly played a key role in Bee changing the direction of her professional aspirations. Hence, what was a hobby became a passion and a way to transform classic African Fashion into a product with cosmopolitan appeal.

B’ExotiQ by Bee Arthur has become a hallmark of couture clothing that caters for a very eclectic clientele: Singers, actors, diplomats,politicians, corporate women and men. (Mrs Kofi Annan owns garments and a handmade shawl by Bee). The clothing line appeals to Westerners as much as it does to Africans precisely because Bee ceverly blends elements from eurasian and african cultures. Although Bee is completely immersed in her world of art and beautification and self-expression, her studies in sociology were never forgotten. Bee was one of the designers that in 2006 were called upon by USAID to support a project that aimed to take young girls off the streets of Northern Ghana by involving them in sustainable income projects. In this precise project, the young girls were taught the art of weaving strips of traditional cloth which were sold to contemporary African designers and decorators.

Bee Arthur was chosen as the most innovative designer in this project because of the variety of products she made with the Gonja Cloth: hand-painted table-runners, bottle jackets, purses, throw-pillows, lamp-shades, bags, hats and embroidered tunics.In Ghana, Bee Arthur has exceeded the boundaries of fashion. She is often seen as a guest on a “Today’s Woman”- a TV program that addresses both professional and personal issues that affect women. She provides mentor-ship to young people looking for careers in fashion and other domains. Because of Bee’s engaging personality and personal contributions towards enhancing the quality of fashion in Africa, Malta Guiness offered Bee the role of one of their celebrity judges for Malta Guiness Street Dance Competition – a TV production that targets the youth and aims to harness street talent and give young people hope.

Bee Arthur has been featured in SAMVIRKE ( Danemark) as one of the Africans who represent the new positive face of Africa.”

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2 Comments

  1. Gwandine says:

    Gwandine from the United States says this is a great blog!

  2. Thank you!

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