Earlier this year, New York designer Anna Sui let us into her world, with her first ever retrospective at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. Continuing with an already astounding year, Anna has just launched a capsule collection with Macy’s: ‘Anna loves INC’.
As New York Fashion Week is now upon us, here’s some inspirational advice from Anna on her first show, casting, and the all important music selection…
Tell me about your first ever show?
It was a labor of love, I had no money, somebody helped me get a donated space, Linda and Naomi helped me get other models, and Steven (Meisel) and my friend Paul helped me put the whole thing together. It was the right time, everyone was looking for something new. We had just gone through power dressing, and mega brands such as Versace and Chanel, things were changing. Right around the time that music was starting to change, there was grunge, it went hand in hand as a reaction of what had come before.
It was a labor of love, I had no money, somebody helped me get a donated space
How does music inspire each collection?
When I started, my whole goal was to dress rock stars and people that went to rock concerts, every season when I’m working on a new collection, music is so important as far as inspiring me and transporting the audience. I’m constantly looking for music that takes me to where that fantasy is that I’m trying to create for the runway. You can tell, the different track lists, it’s music that’s sometimes happening at that moment, or it’s music that just evokes the fantasy I’m trying to create.
With your shows, there always a message that you want people to leave the show feeling?
Everyone always comments that the models look so happy, and that they’re actually smiling and look like they’re enjoying the show. I’ve seen too many somber shows where the models are trudging down the runway with scowls on their faces.
I think that really evokes your brand and how people feel within your clothes as well
I think so, I think that’s kind of the message that I like to get across. If you’re gonna do a show, you have to entertain and my version of entertainment is joy and celebrating, I try to project that in the show.
When I started, my whole goal was to dress rock stars and people that went to rock concerts
With the increase of technology, VR, social media and being able to live stream and watch shows online, you think that fashion shows are still as important as they were years ago?
There’s so many levels of what you get from a fashion show, that certainly it gives you access to so much more. Even to this day, I can watch a show and look at all the stills online. When I see the clothes in person, it’s a different thing. There’s nothing like seeing it in person, actually in motion from many different angles. With that head sticking out from the top, there’s a reason why we spend so much time casting. You try to evoke something with your selection of the model, there’s always a moment in the show when you gasp because somewhere it all works together.
There’s nothing like seeing it in person, actually in motion from many different angles
Everyone was saying the last fall show that Janice Alida came out in the burgundy iridescent dress with the fur, the way she walked, everyone said it was just so stunning. Or the famous show where Christine, Naomi, and Linda were wearing the baby doll dresses and they stopped on the runway, that you can’t plan, it’s spontaneous.
HF: I think as well it’s very much atmosphere, I find it interesting moving over to NY, so I wasn’t in London for last FashionWeek, and I had so many press release and images sent through and even from speaking to the team in London, you can receive all of the content but there’s nothing like being there and speaking to people that are in the audience, fashion is a spectacle, in that sense.
Anna is showing on Monday 11th September at NYFW