Flashback to “The World of Anna Sui” in London

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

The World of Anna Sui exhibition took place last year from May 26 – October 1 and was located in London at the Textile Museum. It featured 125 ensembles show casing accessories, shoes, hats and highlights the designer’s collaborations, and collections. This was my first museum I visited while studying Fashion Marketing in Europe and I am flashing back to my journey inside. 

Anna Sui is an American fashion designer from Detroit. She was named one of the Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade joining the ranks of Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg. Her brand categories include several fashion lines, footwear, cosmetics, fragrances, eyewear, jewelry, accessories, home goods and books. Anna Sui products are sold at her stores and distributors around the world in over 50 countries. In 2006, Fortune estimated the collective value of Sui’s fashion empire at over $400 million.

The exhibition focuses on her life in New York City. Sui moved to New York, studied fashion at the The New School’s Parsons School of Design and opened her first store there in 1991 in New York Cities Soho District.  A recreation of her first boutique in New York sets the scene of the exhibition with red floors and over 150 full looks, assembled together under Tiffany lamps, among psychedelic posters. The main body of the exhibition space consists of more than 125 mannequins dressed in Anna Sui’s designs and grouped into themes Fairy tale, Nomad, Victorian, Mod, Punk, Grunge, Androgyny, Americana, Surfer and Schoolgirl, all recurring reference points in Sui’s nearly 30-year fashion career.

Cabinets full of accessories are included, with purple walls to provide what Nothdruft described as “an Alice in Wonderland of Anna Sui”. Dennis Nothdruft, curator of the exhibition, said: “Anna Sui helped define the look of Generation X. as young creatives rediscover and reference the 90’s, it is time to explore the original designs in a critical context.” I think it’s amazing how she showcased all of her work and collections over time in one room.

Another room in the exhibition is called the “inspiration room”. Visitors were presented with work from designers in both London and Detroit that inspired her. It was also filled with magazine editorials and her colorful sketches, as well as her various achievements. This was my personal favorite room because she showcased her work process and expressed what inspired her to become a designer.

The upstairs of the exhibition had black cabinets filled with glasses. shoes, fragrances and other accessories Sui designed.

Other rooms take on Sui’s inspirations with different hats that make dogs and frogs out of faux fur and moodboards for recent collections.

Also celebrated in the exhibit was the collaborations Sui has become so well-known for. The best examples of her unions have been selected for display, showing the power of creatives joining forces. Although, my favorite collaboration of Sui was her collaboration with Nars. Her campaigns were first directed by François Nars, then Pat McGrath.

“The World of Anna Sui” in London’s Fashion and Textile Museum was Sui’s first exhibit.  Anna Sui has 50 stores worldwide, influenced a generation of American fashion and has an army of loyal fans. I love that she has designed collections of all different styles and a variety of products from fragrances, makeup, hats, and even books. I cant wait to check out her latest collection at New York Fashion Week Tune into her fashion show that will be live streamed online on Monday September 10th at 7pm. Below are photos that were showcased in the exhibit of her fashion shows and campaigns in the past.

What are your thoughts on “The World of Anna Sui” in London?

xx, A


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