New York's Anna Sui is set to make a splash across the pond. On May 26, the Fashion and Textiles Museum in London will bow The World of Anna Sui, a retrospective of the designer's work, featuring over 100 looks from her archives.
Sui is so much more than a New York icon. In silhouette, Sui's clothes are feminine and straightforward, yet they are anything but simple. She has a knack for intricate patters, appliques like lace trimmings, and layering, giving her collections a bohemian vibe with a dark twist. Her ready-to-wear offerings seem to exist on a plane of their own, never adhering to any seasonal trends, and her body of work is perfect for a solo retrospective because, much like an artist's, her vision for clothing is so specific that patrons will be able to focus on her evolution, rather than the evolution of fashion itself.
In the introduction to Anna Sui, a book by Andrew Bolton, fashion photographer and Sui’s longtime friend Steven Meisel wrote: “You often see Anna’s own style in her work. Not just her preppy phase. You see her punk phase, her goth phase, her Mudd Club phase. You see Anna’s life when you see her clothing. You also see her loves, her passions.”
Sui’s debut runway show was in 1991, and she opened her first boutique in New York a year later. Since then, the designer has expanded her brand globally and created a popular cosmetics line, staying true to her eclectic, unique aesthetic all the while. Hopefully, the exhibit will be able to capture all the little (and excessive) details that make Sui’s look so iconic.
Also notable about this show is that it is the first time an American designer will be the sole focus of a retrospective in the U.K. But this particular partnership is kind of perfect—the Fashion and Textiles Museum was founded by British designer Zandra Rhodes, someone who has heavily influenced Sui's work. In fact, Sui lists Rhodes as one of her favorite designers on her website, alongside Emilio Pucci, Ossie Clark, and Paul Poiret. Talk about coming full circle.
The World of Anna Sui opens on May 26, and will run until October 1, 2017