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Kate S. Mensah Photograph: Seattle Magazine.

Kate S. Mensah


Embracing the

female form




By the time she was a teenager Kate S. Mensah already had a well-defined personal style. While other young Parisians in the early 1990s sported baggy jeans, overalls and athletic shoes in a Gallic shrug to hip hop street style, Mensah dressed for school in “real pants with real jackets and tango boots. I was not into jeans and sportswear even then. My look was a little bit boyish, but very classy. I wanted to be elegant. I wanted to be me, basically. People called me BCBG,” she added, referring to the French term bon chic, bon genre, meaning a chic, understated but always well-put together look.


Today Mensah is still creating her own style. But now she also produces clothing and sells it under her own label. Since 2011 she has created five collections of dressy women’s clothing that she has placed in carefully chosen shops in North America and Paris. She is also selling directly to customers through a Seattle-based e-commerce site and has plans to start selling in Africa in the near future. She does all her own designing and marketing, and flies regularly to Los Angeles to consult with the apparel factory that produces her collections. Considering that five years ago Mensah did not know how to use a sewing machine or handsew a hem, her path from style savvy teenager to founder of her own small but growing fashion label is a testament to her remarkable energy and vision.  









Robin Updike
Robin Updike is an arts writer based in Seattle, Washington. A former newspaper art critic, she covered the Seattle fine arts scene for many years and has also covered the Pacific Northwest’s robust jewelry community. Her interview with Kate S. Mensah, unfolds in a comfortable fashion as Mensah talks about the art of designing clothing. Cosmopolitan, world-traveled and ambitious, Mensah has distributed her line of clothes in Paris, New York and Africa. Also in this issue Updike talks with gallery owner Karen Lorene about Lorene’s tenth “Signs of Life” project, a remarkable mix of jewelrymaking and the literary arts.

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