The World Of Anna Sui | Part One



Last time I went to the Fashion and Textile Museum in London it was to visit the Jazz Age Exhibition - unfortunately I missed the Josef Frank one but I'm back now helping out with The World Of Anna Sui which is super fun (and the first retrospective of an American designer in a British museum.) It's also quite nostalgic for me personally as Secret Wish was my first ever perfume! I kept that fairy topped bottle for years. 

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Not all of her clothes are necessarily my style, even though I love the music and pop culture references, but she's a designer who I really admire. A true individual, she's never been one to follow the crowd, she sticks to her own vision and tends to go all in ('I like a complete environment'.) This is quite something in an industry obsessed with trends and what is popular and 'in style'.  You can tell she was previously a stylist as she's continued to include lots of pattern, texture and detail, as well as accessories you might not think to put together despite the trend over the past few years for pared back minimalism (although saying that I think print is becoming rather exciting again!) Her collections often have a slightly 'off-kilter' twist but they are still full of optimism and positivity - I love that she always looks on the bright side. Sui is especially connected to the music world and has dressed musicians, many of whom are now close personal friends, including Courtney Love, Madonna, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Nicks.

Her world is all very personal to her and she's known for the extensive research she does, meaning her attention to detail is second to none, plus she still owns her own business which is highly unusual in today's fashion climate. Yet despite her independence, teamwork is key - from accessory and knitwear designers to models (Naomi Campbell and Karen Elson were regulars in her shows) to make up artists (Francois Nars used to work with her, now Pat McGrath has taken on the role) it's all a very collaborative effort. She also supports the New York Garment District, which has struggled in recent times with production tending to move abroad, which I think is very commendable. She is someone we can all be inspired by, fashion fans or not!

Anyway fangirl moment over,  I'm guessing you'd still like to see the clothes? So here they are ordered together in 'Anna's Archetypes' as they are in the exhibition rather than chronologically. The place has been transformed to replicate an Anna Sui boutique in her signature red and purple, Tiffany lamps and black lacquered furniture. It really is like stepping into another world and despite it being quite a small space there's just so much to see! So let's take you through the wardrobe doors and into Narnia as it were - hope you enjoy!

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FAIRYTALE

Quite unusually for an American designer, Sui likes to tell stories with her clothes and is all about the dressing up and magic of fashion. Inspired by classics such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, as well as modern stories like Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass, she creates characters and fantasy worlds that I think we'd all like to be a part of. I mean I don't know about you, but it takes me right back to my childhood when I was obsessed with fairies and mythical creatures!

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NOMAD

Sui loves to mix in different elements in her collections which is why she's so inspired by Nomadic culture. It appeals to her fantasies and I can relate to that - it's exciting to discover a world that's different to your own and whilst travel is something that's not always possible for many reasons fashion is always something you can get lost into. There's also references to the TV show Vikings here as you can see!

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VICTORIAN

We might think of the Victorians as being uptight but if you look at their aesthetic - velvets, dark romance, decadence - it's all very rock and roll, which help inspired the change from mod to hippie in the early 70's. These elements are key to Sui's world, so she has often referred to this time period for inspiration and produced some fab Seventies style hippie glam dresses. 

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MOD

Sui's first collection in 1991 was inspired by the Mods of Canarby Street, which is a movement she continues to reference to this day. Growing up listening to The Beatles and seeing images of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, Sui was enraptured by the youthful mood and revolutionary spirit and you can see the lasting influence it's had as the positivity of the decade is something that shines through in every collection.

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That's it for Part One, come back soon to see the rest of the exhibition - including some of my favourite pieces. What's your favourite look here? For me it's the little black dress and jacket in the Victorian collection - couldn't you see Kate Moss wearing it? 



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