Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nubia Chic: Sika Designs & Cote Minou



Among the world's growing population is a sub-culture of Africans who were raised outside of their countries, allowing them to familiarize with both their native (or parent's) country, as well as their host country. Of that sub-culture is a new and blossoming style of dress that is spreading like wildfire in America and abroad. Phyllis Taylor's Sika Designs of London, and Maryanne Mokoko's Cote Minou of DC represent this mixture of cultures; meshing contemporary West African prints and fabrics with contemporary Western styles to introduce, Nubia Chic.

Though Sika and Cote Minou are only two of hundreds of growing African lines, their styles are avant-garde, yet elegant approaches to defining young West-African esteem and flair. Sika Designs is based in London, but its factories are in Ghana. Phyllis Taylor, a Ghanaian-European, and her line have been featured in a number of magazines such as Pride, Dare, Grazia and London Lite. "Life in London and Ghana inspire me," Taylor said in a previous interview with The Coup Magazine, "I also use trend forecasts while working on a particular collection. I am lucky enough to have my own factory in Ghana, where I produce all my pieces."

Cote Minou was begun by two students at Howard University, home to a campus yard that people refer to as a "runway". Maryanne Mokoko and Stephanie Mouapi are Cameroonian friends that came to America for college. "Fashion to me is a matter of personal taste as we say in Cameroon "ya style". It requires confidence to make others believe it is worth it," Mokoko said in a blog. The two have visited more than 17 fashion shows in the past year, spreading the word of their art to colleges all over the northeast, and shedding light on a new and different kind of "chic".

Visit their sites online at www.sikadesigns.co.uk, and www.coteminou.blogspot.com

-Wayetu Moore

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