Exploring the World of Anna Sui


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Exploring the World of Anna Sui

As one of the world’s most adored and talented designers, the upcoming The World of Anna Sui exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum London is sure to delight attendees. The thrilling display will be the first time that an American fashion designer has been the focus of a retrospective exhibition in the UK, making for a truly unique and exciting experience.

Anna Sui 2011 Portrait©Anna Sui

Anna Sui, 2011 © Anna Sui. The World of Anna Sui, book cover 2017

Originating from her debut 1991 catwalk show, Sui has become known for her signature rock-n-roll meets romantic style. Her contemporary original clothing designs were inspired by remarkable quantities of research into both vintage fashion and popular culture, allowing the iconic designer to amass an international cult following. She is especially famous for the colourful printed textiles that feature across many of her collections.

AnnaSui_MOOD BOARD - FALL 2016

Images l to r: Moodboard for Pop-sydelic Collection, AW 2016 featuring references to work by artists Peter Blake and Niki de Saint Phalle

Described as ‘daring’ and ‘experimental’ in her approach to design, Sui joined New York’s cultural underground at a powerfully creative time, allowing the designer to form invaluable relationships in the worlds of fashion, photography, art, music and design. The World of Anna Sui will explore such relationships, allowing us to journey through her creative process, collections, interiors and collaborations.

Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid modelling the Polynesian Collection, Spring Summer 2016. The print on the dress modelled by Gigi Hadid was commissioned from Zandra Rhodes and the models also wear wedge-heeled Hush Puppies shoes, which highlight Sui’s ability to make strategic partnerships with kindred designers and manufacturers. Image © Jennifer Graylock

Arranged thematically, The World of Anna Sui will deal with a recurring cast of characters- the rocker, the schoolgirl, the punk, the goth, and the bohemian; all of which have become archetypes of the fashion world and thus have featured heavily across her work. The exhibition boasts more than 100 head-toe ensembles ranging from iconic early looks such as the mod Carnaby Street schoolgirls worn by supermodels Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell in the first runway show in 1991. It will also feature cowboys and cheerleaders modelled by sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid during the recent Spring/Summer 2017 runway.

Other exhibition highlights include a glimpse into Anna’s seminal grunge collections, inclusive of the infamous baby-doll dresses from the 1994. Of this time Sui says, ‘It was my moment. If grunge music was an alternative to stadium rock, the kind of clothes I designed were my alternative to power dressing.’

Anna Sui FW16 Look 1_Jamie Bochert & Justin Gossman©AnnaSui

Pop-sydelic Collection, Autumn Winter 2016, featuring Jamie Bochert & Justin Gossman. The collection combined 1960s Carnaby Street style with the influence of pop artists Richard Lindner, Tadanori Yokoo, Peter Blake and the electric milieu of Robert ‘Groovy Bob’ Fraser’s London art gallery. Photo © Thomas Lau

The significance of print and textiles is evident in the complex layering and mingling of patterns, texture and colours in Anna Sui’s designs. Both her own characteristically graphic textiles are showcased as well as those created by such partners as Ascher Studio, Zandra Rhodes, Jeffrey Fulvimari and Barbara Hulanicki. Furthermore, the display discovers Anna’ s various creative processes through various mediums; through mood boards, photographs, sketches, runway shots, and cultural ephemera, all of which combine to achieve a truly fascinating experience.

SS14 Backstage Image©Anna Sui

Backstage at the Spring Summer 2014 Collection which was inspired in part by the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde exhibition at the Tate in 2012 combined with the work of The Fool, the 1960s psychedelic design collective. Image © Raoul Gatchalian

Dennis Nothdruft, Curator of The World of Anna Sui says:

‘Anna Sui helped define the look of Generation X. As young creatives rediscover and reference the 1990s, it is time to explore the original designs in a critical context. Through The World of Anna Sui we hope to highlight a fresh cultural perspective on the so-called slacker generation. The exhibition will showcase a fashion designer who, contrary to the stereotype, is not only highly creative and entrepreneurial but also playful and positive.’

Isetan Mitsukoshi Ad for SS12©Anna Sui

Spring Summer 2012 Isetan Mitsukoshi promotion. Image © Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello.

The World of Anna Sui is at The Fashion and Textile Museum from 26 May- 1 October 2017. Visit www.ftmlondon.org for more info.

Exploring the World of Anna Sui

Rachael Martin

Written by Rachael Martin

Rachael is a graduate from Queen's University, Belfast with a bachelor's in English Literature with Creative Writing. A freelance writer and blogger, her hobbies include blogging and reading.


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