PHYLLIS ODESSEY

controlled mishmash of ideas

Cowgirls, surfers, grunge girls, hula girls, Mods, pirates, rock stars, pre-Rapaelite maidens, surfers, nomads, schoolgirl, punk, fairytale, schoolgirl, Victorian, Androgyny are some of  Anna Sui’s iconic prototypes. Anna Sui launched her first collection in 1981.  For ten years she worked out of her apartment New York.

1988 Anna Sui collection

The Look of Anna Sui with longtime collaborators, hairstylist, Garren  (hairstylist) and make-up artist Pat McGrath is one of the programs that are part of the retrospective of The World of Anna Sui at the Museum of Art and Design. 

Anna Sui

Fall 2019 Anna Sui

Saturday, Nov 2 both Garren and Pat McGrath used these words to describe Anna Sui’s fashion sense: playful, creative, out of control, disciplined, vigorous, paradoxical, cohesive, modern, rebellious.

Anna Sui 2019

Why write a blog about a fashion designer?  Anna Sui stands out  She has managed to build a small company (40 employees) and remain in control of her licenses – but most of all because her clothes defy what’s IN and what’s OUT.  She has remained unique in the fashion world. Her clothes are never part of a “trend” or the what fashion magazines may advocate for the fashion conscious in any given year.

Anna Sui 2017

“The 1960s was the period that really shaped me and my love for fashion. It will always represent a time of ultimate optimism, revolution, freedom, and infinite possibility, a Youthquake. Everything was changing – music, film, design, art. The new guard was taking over. New design aesthetics and color palettes introduced by Alexander Girard, Rudi Gernreich and Marimekko, would eventually dominate the look of everything in our daily life; from architecture to refrigerators.” 

Anna Sui 1993

“You know, my whole career has been optimistic and joyful. I am the most optimistic person I know. I always think everything will turn out OK, [though] at times I have doubts and at times I am dark like anyone else. But I have to believe it will all turn out OK. And I think maybe we all do.”

Anna Sui 2019

1933: A scene from the musical ‘Footlight Parade’, choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

Anna Sui 1994

Saturday at MAD Anna Sui talked about the range of her influences. To paraphrase, “When I go  home home, I often sit with her father and watch Turner Classic Movies.  We were watching a Busby Berkeley musical.  I looked at those costumes and I was inspired to create a modern mash-up.”  Madeline Castaing, the French interior designer known for her romantic neo-classicism infuenced Sui’s Punk collection.

When I go to the Sui exhibition I look at the clothes and admire the combination of colors, textures and patterns.  I also think about gardens and how this kind of mash-up can be translated into a garden design.

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