Born in 1964 in Michiga, Anna Sui is a fashion designer and perfumer, who is much celebrated in the history of fashion. She is known for her enduring designs and her skill for developing collections with cultural and historical references.
Sui was only four years old when she decided to be a designer. As a teenager, she read a piece of writing in Life Magazine that described the life of a woman who was a graduate from Parsons The New School for Design and the shifted to Paris where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor opened a boutique for her. At the time, Sui had found her ticket to fashion and she dreamt about moving to the same institute. After years when Sui was a little mature, she re-read the story and discovered that the girl was the daughter of Irving Penn, a legendary photographer. Sui became more ambitious and embarked on a journey to fulfill her childhood dream. She too joined Parsons The New School of Design.
After her graduation, Sui gained hands-on experience in the field by making designs for sportswear brands and by styling models on photo shoots of Steven Meisel. Around the same time, she started designing and producing apparel on her own from her apartment. Whilst working at Glenora, Sui presented her five piece collection at a trade show in New York and managed to attract some department stores of the city. After a few weeks, her clothes were shown through an advertisement in New York Times. Seeing this, Glenora‘s manager was upset and fired her instantly.
Left unemployed, Sui invested her saving of $300 on a business she operated from the living room of her flat. For several years, her company remained this way and for extra income she did odd-jobs. All her earning were re-invested into the business. The 80s were a golden period for companies like Versace, Lacoix and Chanel. With such a fashion landscape, it was difficult (but not impossible) for Sui to stand up to the position of such big names.
Rock music has been Sui’s initial stimulation towards fashion designing. She was involved at the time’s punk scene and was highly attracted to rock stars’ dressing style. For her, they were the most interesting individuals. Later on, she approached other kinds of designs and cuts for her clothes rather than using only music as her foundation.
Sui’s career breakthrough happened when supermodels, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell as well as Meisel and Madonna, who have been her long-time friends, convinced Sui to conduct a catwalk show. Hence, the designer rented a petite place and hired models to conduct the retrospective. Campbell and Evangelista were the star performers and Sui’s collection was praised by the audience.
The Time publication ranked Anna Sui among the top five icons of fashion of the decade. She has been acknowledged by The New York Times as well. The Newsweek profiled her in its segment on leadership in women. Moreover, she was presented with a CFDA Geoffrey Beene award for Lifetime Achievement.
Sui loves art and history since there is so much to explore and learn. She mixes the two together in her designs in a way that the outcome makes sense.
Moving to her personal life, Sui loves watching movies when she wants to disappear from reality. She enjoys whole wheat toast with scrambled eggs the most. Her favorite place is California and since childhood she’s been dreaming to surf the sea there. Anna likes Le Monte d’Arthur the most, which is a book of illustrations compiled by Aubrey Beardsley.