Looking back on nearly four decades of fashion, designer Anna Sui’s eclectic, colorful and deeply researched collections.
Designer Anna Sui opens the doors to her trippy, psychedelia-inspired world in a new exhibit at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale.
For all that’s changed since Anna Sui presented her first runway show in 1991, the designer’s obsessive love of fashion, design and music remains. That love is on full display in The World of Anna Sui. Having previously been in London, Shanghai and New York, the retrospective will soon be at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. Featuring over 125 looks from the designer’s archives—ranging from the schoolgirl outfits worn by Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell in Sui’s first runway show to cowboys and cheerleaders modeled by Gigi and Bella Hadid during a 2017 collection—it is an explosion of pure joy and creativity. We spoke with Anna Sui about the exhibit coming to South Florida.
The exhibition explores the design process. How has that process changed for you this season?
The process has been the same. The only thing different is the presentation. I think we’re due for a new way to show clothes. This pandemic has forced that to happen. This is the first time since 1991 that I have not done a runway show. It was really fun to do the video and to learn about 360-degree photography to present my collection in virtual showrooms.
Images from the exhibit as it appeared in London, Shanghai and New York before arriving in South Florida this fall.
What were some of your earliest inspirations?
I originally began designing for rock stars and people that went to rock concerts. Through the years I was lucky to be able to incorporate whatever I was inspired by or obsessed with in my design. In the exhibition you will see my inspiration boards that show the thought process of images that I love and how it turns into the collection.
Your first show was in ’91, which was around the time South Beach was experiencing its rebirth. Did you spend time here in the ’90s?
Yes, I remember New Year’s Eve in Miami in the ’90s at Madonna’s. We also went to a party at Gianni Versace’s. I loved seeing Donatella’s dressing room!
You can’t talk about fashion in South Florida without bringing up Gianni Versace. Any memories to share?
I met Gianni Versace at the 1993 CFDA Awards backstage. Elton John presented his award.
What are standout moments/pieces in the exhibit that you think the South Florida audience will find especially poignant?
I hope this exhibition inspires students and future designers. I wanted them to see the process of design, its evolution, and how my signature brand developed. It was also important for me to show that there was a team behind me that shared my vision. Garren, Francois Nars, Pat McGrath, James Coviello, Erickson Beamon, Bill Mullen, Steven Meisel, plus my design team, staff and my amazing assistant Thomas Miller: my fashion family.
Photography by: Courtesy of Anna Sui