Natural Socialite

I love her Socialite Style | Kimberly Sumner

In Art & Beauty, Natural Hair, Style Guide on July 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm
Sumner purchased this “kente cloth–esque print dress” from a small boutique in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Photograph: Ilenia Martini

A few weeks ago, I ran accross some fabulous pics of stylish New Yorker Kimberly Sumner, and was completely blown away.  My recent obsession with textiles and bright colorful prints was deeply intesified when I saw this natural beauty featured on Timeout New York ‘s online mag.


Kimberly Sumner, 23, freelance artist, Harlem

Her personal style: “An explosion of patterns.”

Her inspirations: Soul Train, blaxploitation films, the reemergence of the Afro in the late ’60s, Op Art, the artist Yinka Shonibare, textiles from around the world, vibrations and color theory.”

Favorite stores:Beads of Paradise (16 E 17th St between Broadway and Fifth Ave; 212-620-0642, is heaven on earth. Any rare stone you can imagine, you can find it here. Moscot (118 Orchard St at Delancey St, 212-477-3796 • 69 W 14th St at Sixth Ave, 212-647-1550 • has a cool collection of retro frames that I enjoy sifting through. And I really enjoy the decor at the Brooklyn Circus (150 Nevins St at Bergen St, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-858-0919, I always end up skimming through the coolest books while I’m there.”

Her signature items: “My hair and eyeglasses. Mostly my hair, though. Also, the fact that if you happen to run into me on the street, you can bet that I’ll be wearing some type of print somewhere, if not head to toe.”

How she describes New York style: “It’s a hodgepodge of almost every style you can possibly imagine. No matter what you look like or how you prefer to decorate yourself, you’re welcome to do so here.”

How her style has evolved through the years: “When I first moved to NYC five years ago for school at Parsons, I was completely broke. I arrived to New York with straight hair, wearing jeans and a T-shirt! My style evolved out of frequenting secondhand shops and learning about flea markets. My obsession with textiles and patterns didn’t happen until my senior year, when I was writing my thesis about a body of work I created consisting of hand-dyed textiles. That’s when the research about textiles from different countries began and I started noticing things I never noticed before. While shopping at flea markets and wandering around the city, hand-dyed garments, batik textiles, kimonos and Dutch wax prints began to catch my eye and manifest themselves in my wardrobe.”

In an interview with Style Like You, Kimberly talks about when she made the decision to let her hair grow “towards the sun,” as she says, it had the effect of a halo or crown, as if nature is anointing her a queen. She digs deeply into the rituals of the Maasai tribe for inspiration and ponders, “It’s not about who can wear the shortest skirt or the highest heels, it’s about how big can I make this headwrap to signify my status in this tribe.”

Her Grandmother’s Dress
“This is one of my absolute favorite pieces in my wardrobe because I understand the process and time required to dye the fabric that became this...
An Explosion of Fabulosity

“To me true beauty has nothing to do with the physical. However, it is about how you carry yourself. I find knowledge to be most beautiful.”~ Kimberly Sumner


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