The Fashion and Textile Museum recently hosted an exhibition of Anna Sui’s personal collection of catwalk pieces, spanning her career.
Dennis Nothdruft, Curator, worked with Anna to produce a colourful and integrated display of all her different genres of clothing throughout her collections from 1990.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Anna was associated with Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and some of the key celebrities of her time.
Anna loved designer clothes and was considered very cool by her contemporaries. She has always designed for a young market and therefore not strictly luxury in the couture sense.
According to Steven Meisel, Anna lives in a heavily decorated flat. Her merchandising mirrors this aesthetic and her make-up is always shown in retro-designed black Victorian cabinets.
In the 1980s there was a dress-up culture and this is when Anna’s ‘Hip, girly and tongue-in-cheek’ designs were inspired1)Meisel, S. (2010) – Anna Sui, Ed. Andrew Bolton, China: Chronicle Books..
Although I was aware of her quirky design approach I was surprised to find so many different themes for her collections. Clearly music has been one of her main inspirations, and played a major role in her catwalk collections.
Videos of the performances at her catwalk shows played in the exhibition space gave a very in-depth view of Anna’s fashion design history. Music posters decorated the walls, reminding the spectator that Anna’s collections date through a profoundly important period in Rock history.
In the main hall downstairs plinths were named after the archetypes of her collections such as Fairy Tale, Nomad, Victorian, Mod, Grunge etc. A novel approach to documentation meant that small books were placed on the plinths detailing all the garments shown on the mannequins.
Upstairs there were specific display of mood boards, millinery, shoes and make-up, which showed all her collaborators such as Françoise Nars, Erickson Beamon, James Coviello, Steven Meisel, Garren and Pat McGrath.
Anna is known for her attention to background research and a bricolage of ideas. Her textiles, many of which are created by Anna herself, play a major role in her designs. Her collections refer to so many different sub-cultures, which come back into fashion time and time again.
|↑1||Meisel, S. (2010) – Anna Sui, Ed. Andrew Bolton, China: Chronicle Books.|