Welcome to the last section of our Beatrice Arthur feature for the Issue Entitled “Print Is The New Black”. Last interview we got deep into Beatrice Arthur political thoughts on fashion in Ghana. Now we simply get to know Beatrice the woman a bit more. Enjoy.
FashionGHANA.com: Why do you wear your hair this way?
Beatrice Arthur: My blond beehive suits my skin tone and my personality, I believe. being an artist has given me the liberty to wear my hair whichever way I choose. The blond coiffure has made me stand out for years in a conservative place like Ghana, makes me stand out in a crowd. Never being one who desired to blend in the crowd, the staring and gawking and commentaries never bothered me for a second. On the contrary, they served as a source of permanent amusement and entertainment. Over the years I have registered all types of expressions on people’s faces, shock, horror, confusion, and mere stupefaction. I wish I had filmed it!
Interestingly, in recent times, the very aspect of my style that disturbed this conservative Ghanaian society has become one of the things most of my compatriots like about me a lot. I get many compliments lately from elderly people on the streets, in offices, banks, etc. Even the fact that my sides are shaved does not perturb them anymore. Times have really changed in Ghana and my hair has served as a barometer to measure the extent of the evolution in attitudes.
I get stopped often by Police officers at checkpoints only to be told “Madam I like your hair! Can I bring my wife so you do the same on her head?” Now, how sweet is that?! I like very much the fact that I put smiles on people’s faces with my “eccentric” hair. To me, am just being my funky self. Initially, I might have set out to shock this very conservative society but it stopped being about that a long time ago. My hair is not an affront. It’s a personal style statement.
I wonder…Would Mr. Ernest Adjovi had ever even invited me to the KORA Fashion Competition in Sun City in 2001, which I won, had he not noticed my funkadelic hair in Paris?
FashionGHANA.com: Will you be trying anything new in the future?
Beatrice Arthur: I love fashion, and once a fashionista always a fashionista. But I have other talents that I want to explore. The tv and Cinema beckon me. So I will give it a good shot and see if it turns out to be as fulfilling as fashion has been. Also, I have some interesting discreet projects on the back burners for when I decide to retire completely from public life. It’s most important to me to be doing things I love at every stage of my life.
FashionGHANA.com: What do you prefer, Russian food or Ghanaian food?
Beatrice Arthur: I prefer BOTH! Haha! But there are more dishes I prefer in Ghana because of the spices. I adore my mother’s beetroot soup called Borsch. That I could eat every day for lunch. However, I do need my pa-lava sauce and goat light soup with ginger regularly. That is the advantage of being multicultural, My palate travels the continents on a daily basis.
We are still not a fashion destination. We don’t really export clothing. We don’t have a properly organised national fashion week.
FashionGHANA.com: Being as you have lived so long in Ghana, do you feel like a foreigner in Russia or is there a bit of a home feeling?
Beatrice Arthur: In the past years, I have hardly visited Ukraine or Russia. indeed I do feel like a total stranger there the few times that I did visit those two countries after returning to Ghana to settle permanently. Hence in my mind, Ghana is my home, my Patria. Nevertheless, I feel quite linked to Russian culture because I grew up with it and half of my family are Russians. Together we watch Russian movies, Russian news and I enjoy enormously Russian jokes and humor because they are extremely witty and clever. But undoubtedly, I feel at home in Ghana.
Beatrice Arthur: Fashion in Nigeria seems more avant-garde than in Ghana. Ghanaians are relatively conservative and docile creatures by nature…or nurture?. I guess overpopulation in Nigeria accounts for the individual having to do things a bit over the top to get noticed in that multitude of human beings. I generally find Nigerians more outgoing and daring. Ghanaians refer to this trait as “aggressive”. But in the art that is not a bad thing to want to be noticed. So in terms of fashion, which is art, Nigerians are doing interesting things. Nevertheless, many Nigerians like to buy from certain Ghanaian designers, amongst them is me. I wonder why? ( chuckling)
Wishing fashion In Ghana a brighter future! I think its better to retire whiles u are still on top of your game. – Beatrice Arthur On Quiting
FashionGHANA.com: Which country inspires/impresses you the most when it comes to fashion? artistically! (developed or undeveloped)
Beatrice Arthur: London, Milan, Paris, Tokyo.
FashionGHANA.com: Who is your favorite Ghanaian model and why?
Beatrice Arthur: I have worked with several good models. Some were much more sophisticated than others. But in terms of raw energy and Uninhibited and flexibility, I had the most fun with Felidion Ayariga, the feisty bald model from Northern Ghana
FashionGHANA.com: Who is the sexiest Ghanian footballer?
Beatrice Arthur: who is the sexiest Ghanaian foottballer? Hmmmm….am not much of a football fan honestly but I think Prince Boateng has a good physique.
FashionGHANA.com: How would you compare your life as an interior designer to your life as a fashion designer?
Beatrice Arthur: My life as an interior designer is much more discreet than my life as a fashion designer. Fashion is much more public. I enjoy the intimacy of interior decor very much. It is gratifying and satisfying. But I doubt I would have achieved the same level of visibility and notoriety had I stuck just to decor. Probably you would not be interviewing me today.
FashionGHANA.com: True, Give us your top 3 styling tip?
Beatrice Arthur: 1/ Choose a style you can be recognized uniquely by and that complements your body and personality.
2/ If your outfit has many colors, your shoes need not be as colorful. Choose just one complementary or contrasting color.
3/ Invest in good shoes and get a few statement pieces that stay in fashion timelessly.
FashionGHANA.com: Who do you think has made the biggest contribution to the Ghanaian fashion industry?
Beatrice Arthur: The fashion Industry in Ghana is still in its developmental stages, as far as I am concerned. We are still not a fashion destination. We don’t really export clothing. We don’t have a properly organized national fashion week. The industry is made up of predominantly dressmakers and tailors. I am aware that you will pick this as a “controversial” paragraph. The idea is not to put the industry down, but rather make folks aware that we need to get our act together. I can’t think of any particular designer who has made huge importance on Fashion in Ghana. Ghanaians look to the West for styles. Personally, I can boast of having invented new symbols which are a combination of Adinkra symbols and Cyrillic letters. It was also my idea to use Chinese symbols together with A dink rather on Kaftans and Linen Dashikis. I was the first designer to entirely paint on outfits in Ghana instead of embroidery. That’s my personal contribution to the Fashion industry.
FashionGHANA.com: Would there ever be a Beatrice Arthur website?
Beatrice Arthur: My website is undergoing some reconstruction, perestroika!! Changes to reflect a little bit more of a sophisticated “Bee” flavour. It’s www.bq.awuraba.com. For the time being, however, folks can see my exploits in fashion and tv on my facebook page which is facebook.com/bexotiq.
FashionGHANA.com: Any last words or rants for the Ghanaian Fashion industry?
Beatrice Arthur: I have contributed my quota to uplifting Fashion in Ghana and the continent for over 15 tears. It’s time to draw the curtain and pass the baton over to the younger generation. I have received accolades for the past 3 consecutive years. Dakar Fashion Week 2011, AWOWA 2012, and FESMMA Excellence Award 2013. I represented Ghana in Paris this year Paris, I attended OUAGA Fashion week and was invited by ITC to Alta Roma And Geneva. Wishing fashion In Ghana a brighter future! I think it’s better to retire whiles u are still on top of your game.
FashionGHANA.com: Ok, thanks to you for your time, and on behalf of FashionGHANA.com we also wish you a brighter future.
So it’s official. Beatrice Arthur will be quitting her career as a fashion designer. She is preparing her last collection for AFRIK Show in Abidjan on 26th November 2013 called Kaleidoscope, with each outfit looking totally different and then it’s goodbye fashion for the bumblebee! On another note, tomorrow will be the launch of our next issue, find out who makes the cover. Clue, she banned all skin-bleaching models from her fashion week.