THE WORLD OF ANNA SUI
When ´The World of Anna Sui´ opened at London´s Fashion and Textile Museum recently, it was certainly thought long overdue by those in the know, including Anna Sui herself. It’s a veritable time machine of trend setting fashion ephemera taking in the reflections over her 30 year career with themed examples of Punk ,Grunge and Americana to name but a few.
However, it´s not just about her most recent work though – with display creations reflecting back to her cult looks; such as schoolgirl, surfer and fairytale and with an understanding of the creative juices that inspired her on her piecemeal climb to worldwide fashion recognition.
Curator Dennis Northdruft has reflected Sui’s inspirations in rooms that have more than a passing nod to her first Big Apple Boutique space. This notion was one that pleased Anna as it’s the first time she’s managed to look at her designs as whole coordinated outfits within a whole coordinated space; complete with red floors, purple walls and shiny black furnishings. The entrance to the show is through a more unconventional yet whimsical wardrobe door with which Sui pays homage to her favorite fairytale ´The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.´
Further through the exhibition, the ´Inspiration Room´ as Sui calls it is a tribute to the heady days of fashion idols from which she cut her design teeth on. Expect to see references from designers such as Ossie Clarke, Zandra Rhodes and boutiques such as Biba and Granny Takes a Trip which helped her to nurture and reflect on her own fashion acumen over the decades.
¨ Every time that I wanted to give up, if I saw an interesting textile, print what ever, suddenly I would see a collection.¨ – Anna Sui
It’s not only solo work that has put Sui’s name up in lights – the exhibition also features a celebration of her collaborative works with luminaries such as Garren for hair, McGrath and Nars for make-up plus Erickson Beamon for jewellery to name but a few. This helps to give her talent a sense of place by acknowledging the influence that these creative forces had within their own right, but adding that little bit more creative clout thanks to Sui’s inspirational touch.
It’s refreshing to see Anna’s musical interests being reflected throughout her ´though process´ as a lead source of inspiration. Beating vibes from the likes of The Stone Roses and visual reflections of cultural pop and rock icons such as Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg can be acknowledged, staring down from the museums colorful walls. (For those with good memories how about MTV’s ‘Fashionably Loud’ with Sui and Marc Jacobs, oh and whatever happened to special guests ‘Elastica’?)
It’s comforting that beneath its commercial and financial vibe, London can still grace us with surprises such as this retrospective. And just to think, all this came from a chance meeting in the Museums coffee bar with its head Celia Joicey which encouraged Sui be asked to allow them to host her exhibition allowing memories of a still swinging fashion icon to come to the fore – and long may it reign.
Article: Charles Daniel McDonald
Photography: Anna Sui / Fashion & Textile Museum