PHOTOGRAPHY BY VICTOR PRADO
When Yasmin Sabet returned to her native Colombia after years working abroad as an architect, she rediscovered an art form from her childhood: mola, an appliqué technique involving hand-sewing layers of cut fabric that’s a signature of Colombia and Panama’s indigenous Kuna people.
“I grew up seeing molas at nearly every craft market in Bogotá,” says Sabet, who launched her accessory line, Mola Sasa, five years ago. “We even used them to decorate my family’s beach house.” While fast-fashion takeoffs of molasare plentiful, Sabet works with female Kuna artisans, providing employment for more than 80 families. Each made-to-order clutch takes about a week to sew and relays ancestral histories and cultural beliefs. For example, the recently released Iconic Collection features symbol-rich plant and animal designs: Jaguars are jungle warriors, turtles are wise arbiters, and parrots offer insight into the forces of nature (their calls are said to indicate when the rains are about to start).
“The Kuna believe there is a duality to life, from the sky to the land, and these images represent their symbiotic relationship with all that exists in nature,” Sabet says. “They see the flora and fauna as elder brothers and sisters who came to the Earth before us and who continue to live today to provide us with both medicinal cures and protection.”
Clutches $450, mini-clutches $310, molasasa.com