A native of the Detroit area, Sui is a veritable trendsetter that has inspired countless admirers, from stylists to editors. She has created a body of work-- wearable pieces, that speak directly to this statement.
The boundless energy and creative ingenuity of her runway presentations always make her shows a high point of New York Fashion Week. Her runway soundtrack is one of the most anticipated each season. Following her own vision, Anna Sui continues to inspire as she has throughout her career.
Sui outlined her ties to Detroit by drawing upon her early years. She reminisced about concerts at Grande Ballroom and how it impacted her style. She was so enamored that she once asked a senior in school to bring her a Grande Ballroom flyer.
Part of her process is she likes to learn about the process.
After a trip to NYC as a flower girl, she spend her entire childhood figuring out how to be a fashion designer in New York. She approached it with a determined vigor that she is still known for today: centering her entire curriculum around getting into Parsons.
Once in NYC, she immersed herself fully into the city and explored 70s underground culture voraciously. She recalls it as a fascinating & inspiring time. The first person she met was Steven Meisel.
And they went clubbing.
Sui worked in the industry for 10 years before launching own line. This changed when she overheard 2 seniors talking about a job. She ran over to the studio with her portfolio and got the job. The demanding nature of the internship and the training she received helped open doors.
Paris Fashion Shows
Picked up Madonna before heading over to the Ritz. “Anna I have a surprise for you” and Madonna removed her coat & was wearing an Anna Sui dress, described as a black off-the-shoulder number.
Naomi Campbell & Linda Evangelista walked in Sui's first show in 1991 because they hung out at her apartment together. She got all top models because they were all friends-- because of Steven Meisel.
The Ultimate Inspiration
Music is the inspiration behind the collections. Sui was relentlessly inspired by Sid Vicious and his lifestyle, including his time at the Chelsea. She's still inspired by Motown acts and behind every show is a trail of music that she uses in the creation of her work. Music helps set the mood and carry you through the show and take you to the next place. “It’s a form of communication for me. “ (mood board)
Aside from music, other muses include settings her 1st apt, which was railroad-style, and visiting London's Portobello Road for exhibitions. She states that “I can put anything I'm obsessed with Into my work. “ So important for me bc it transports me to that place that I’m trying to get into my Collection.
The Garment District Business Model
“My whole career has been in the garment district. I was kind of sad when I was working on the book and a lot of these companies are gone, a lot of industries have gone off shore.” The Garnett District is about 2-3 blocks now; it used to be 10 blocks. It's shrinking.
“It’s a process. And as long as you move it forward you’ll get there. “
You’re crazy for six months before a show. I create a color story. then group it by images I love. Mood boards are a distinct form of communication for Sui. Fabrics. Prints. Shoes are produced first bc they take the longest to make.
Advice for the Future
Competition is so huge now in fashion. There's so many more design schools -and fewer jobs. The industry is homogenized & corporate. “Find the magic key, but you need determination and focus. “
"I did everything possible to make it happen."