Anna Sui is a storyteller. Her designs are less about trends and more about weaving in a magical narrative. Each collection is created with a theme in mind: from fairytales and nomads to punks and surfers.
The fantasy – the dressing-up part of fashion – has never lost its magic for me.
Seeing her collections stood together at the Fashion & Textiles Museum was breathtaking. Set up in a small room after a walk through a wardrobe doorway, the world of Anna Sui just hits you. You’re instantly transported into the designer’s mind being pulled this way and that from collection to collection.
There’s so much to take in with groups of mannequins stood like gangs against each other. It was punk against americana, surfer against victorian, school girl against mod.
Anna Sui has a talent for taking historic design aesthetics and reimagining them for modern times with contemporary cuts, colours and fit. But she’s probably best known for her grunge collections from 1993 and 1994.
With other collections, which, however much I cherished them, were a carefully stitched-together tapestry of obsessively researched elements. My grunge collection was more “felt” than it was thought.
To really appreciate the work, you need to spend some time going over the details. The beautifully illustrated box bags with embellishments were my favourite.
She really has an eye for textiles and beadwork. The fabrics and needlework are just as stunning as the outfits as a whole, with each layer of clothing just as important and exquisite as the rest.
But even the more romantic themes have a rock and roll edge to them with Sui being described as the ‘Janis Joplin of fashion’ by journalist, Hilary Alexander.
The darker truths behind all that sun and surf and blonde hair and white teeth appealed to my twisted side.
The exhibition is on until the end of September, so hurry and make sure you get to view it before it’s too late! Buy your tickets here.
If you liked this post, check out: Undressed: A Brief History Of Underwear
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