Anna Sui, star of this years’ New York Fashion Week and many more preceding, is one of the most dedicated ladies I’ve ever had the delight to listen to. Anna, 50, has spent a lifetime perfecting and developing her craft after deciding at the age of four that her dream was to be a fashion designer. Anna’s work is solely unique and nothing can compare to her wacky, fun-loving collections season after season. It’s no secret that it has taken Anna all she has to get where she is today; she spoke personally to us about her life as an aspiring fashion designer.
Growing up in Detroit, the first time Anna visited New York – one of the most influential fashion capitals of the world – was for her uncle’s wedding. Instantly stunned by the atmosphere that accompanied daring fashion statements, Anna knew that she had to immerse herself in the city when she was old enough. While still in her teen years, Anna collected fashion magazines and saved cuttings, which she would organise into her ‘genius files’. These files she repeatedly referred to are a huge part of her research when she’s designing a collection, as she uses them often as starting points and to gain inspiration.
The next step for Anna was undoubtedly New York, where she was accepted into Parsons School of Design to study fashion. As a student in such a prestigious school, every day was a fashion show. Anna commented that her and her friends would often mimic what they had seen on the runway with items from thrift shops – assembling them together to create something fashionable, yet out of the ordinary. Anna exclaimed that these outfits went down best while they were exploring the underground club scene of the seventies. For Anna, going out was a part of her research method, along with her ‘genius files’, and she admitted that she spent more of her time out on the town than doing schoolwork
Anna moved to London after her studies at Parsons, where the punk and grunge scene was considerably different to that of New York. She commented that London had a much more daring approach to the style, with every individual transforming into exhibitionists, whereas the style in New York seemed a lot more streamlined and tame. Opening her first boutique in Soho, it’s amazing to think that she now has fifty boutiques worldwide.
The relationship Anna has with her consumers is important in business terms, but she stressed heavily that the friends she’s met along the way are a big influence on her life, particularly fashion photographer and fellow peer at Parsons, Stephen Meisel. Anna also mentioned the ‘supers’ frequently, talking of Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, and how they often supported Anna in some of her first debut runway shows for free.
Anna describes herself as a ‘total fashion freak’. She lives and breathes fashion in all its entirety and her work shows it. She explains that the ambiguity created from the Anna Sui label leaves people wondering whether it’s a good or a bad girl essence and persona, which she finds most exciting. Anna is one for always bringing influences from the past, such as the vintage rock and roll style of the sixties and seventies, and infusing them with modern aspects. She ended on a few wise words that she’s always carried with her, and those were to keep a positive mindset, to always keep moving forward, to trust in yourself and ‘live your dream’.