When it comes to self-fulfilling prophecies, Anna Sui could write the book. After a short trip to New York as a child from her home state of Michigan, the young Sui announced her destiny: “I told my parents that I was going to move to New York and become a fashion designer, not really understanding what it meant, but it sounded good,” she recalls. That her namesake line—now 34 years old—holds the rare distinction of being one of New York’s longest-established labels still under the direction of its founder should be proof enough that her declaration was meant to be.
Whether a collection is rooted in pre-Raphaelite art (Spring 2014) or French New Wave cinema (Fall 2013), threading together each season’s particular style is Sui’s undeniable love for music—specifically rock-‘n’-roll of the ’60s and ’70s. Her spring 2015 collection is an enchanting, print-heavy mash-up of some of her favorite themes: flower-power motifs, Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards, the cosmos, hints of glam. “There’s that touch of nostalgia—that touch of rock-‘n’-roll cool. There’s that fantasy of being the rock stars’ girlfriends,” Sui says of her perennial influences, adding, “I think that people tend to really like what I do because there are things that make them feel good.”
That’s not to say that Sui is stuck in the past. Her enthusiasm for some of today’s emerging talent, especially younger female designers, is practically contagious. “There’s designer Julie de Libran, and it’s so exciting that she’s doing Sonia Rykiel. And then Simone Rocha—every time I see her clothes, I’m just [gasp],” the designer says. It’s that quintessential blend of forward thinking and experience that keeps Sui so enduringly relevant in such a tempestuous industry, although the designer has her own wisdom on the subject: “You have to be resilient and really dedicated.”
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