LEFT: Oversize sunglasses with crystalembellished butterfly detail ($180) RIGHT: rose and crystal-charm details ($200), both by Anna Sui
Given her penchant for boho chic, you might assume Anna Sui would have injected a pair of round, John Lennon-esque wire frames into her oeuvre long ago. But for Sui, who first launched her label in 1981, timing and a great partner are everything. Her recently unveiled eyewear collection hits South Florida stores this summer, so the timing likewise seemed ideal to ask Sui about her optical aspirations.
It’s the 20th anniversary of your first runway show. Why is now the right time to launch an eyewear line? ANNA SUI: The company that approached me, Mondottica, struck me as being really savvy; they understood the Anna Sui brand. They drew from the icons of the label and understood that presentation is very important to me. They also brought in Hiroshi Tanabe, an artist we work with all the time for T-shirt designs or invitations for the fashion shows. So from the start, this very international company proved that they got what I was all about.
How does the collection communicate the Anna Sui aesthetic? AS: All the elements that are important to the brand—the carved roses, the butterflies, fretwork—are present in the designs, and there’s a definite vintage feel throughout the collection. In any of our products or designs, that has to be there. And I think sunglasses really complete an outfit, so that’s how I use them on the runway, to enhance what the collection is all about. For [Spring/ Summer] there was a kind of country style with a bit of Laurel Canyon thrown in, so for that it was about wire-frame granny glasses. For Fall it was mod, so there are some oversize, owl-shaped lenses. I also really love horn materials and working with color, and we’ve done a great job with both here. Karen Elson loved the sunglasses she wore in my show, for example; the color matched her hair so perfectly that she kept them.
Are you someone who collects a wardrobe of sunglasses? AS: Definitely, but that’s also because I wear prescription lenses, since I’m not crazy about wearing contacts. So I draw inspiration from those I’ve collected over the years, as well. I saw this great photo of Cher wearing a pair of aviators that I’ve always liked, and that inspired one style.
What shapes have emerged as favorites for you? AS: I guess I wear the Annie Hall menswear style the most, and in the past I’ve worn the wire rims a lot. And I love cat’s-eye lenses, so lately I’ve been wearing a pair that we do, though they’re a bit modified so they’re easier for most women to wear.
You mentioned the presentation is also a bit different from the typical glass-case display. AS: I really love packaging and the idea that it can be used for other things. A box isn’t just a box; it becomes a place to put a piece of jewelry or some other little find you want to save. The eyewear display we’ve created is pretty unique: It’s like a magical garden that allows you to see all the offerings together. It’s pretty irresistible.