ARTISANAL CHIC: Designer Zainab Sumu continues to make strides with the business she launched last fall, with plans to open a Mali production plant in the spring.
The designer previously worked at Comme des Garçons and H. Lorenzo and operated a Los Angeles boutique catering to A-list celebrities and other upscale clientele.
In the fall, Sumu launched her label Primitive Modern with a collection of scarves, which start at $195, made in different parts of northern and western Africa. That was followed by T-shirts and an expanded color offering for the scarf collection. Jewelry and a small line of maxidresses are expected to make their debut in the spring.
Textile embroidery, block printing, jewelry, tailoring and other work for Primitive Modern will be handled out of the Malian facility upon its opening.
Mali provided much of the inspiration for the line’s initial scarf offering, according to Sumu.
“I started off thinking about nature and vernacular architecture, particularly the history and majestic nature of la grande mosquée,” Sumu said. “I wanted to somehow echo certain symbolic parts of the mosque so I began with simple sketches of palm branches, minarets, cones, pillars and ostrich eggs. The sights, sounds and colorful spectacles on market day in Mali were an especially awe-inspiring experience that really sculpted the outcome of the collection’s color palette.”
It was also in Mali where she met with photographer Malick Sidibé to discuss an upcoming collaboration.