Anna Sui: The Epitome of Cool

NEW YORK, Jan 19, 2000/ FW/ — When you look at her, fashion queen Anna Sui is the epitome of the cool New York lifestyle. Always clad in head-to-toe black (which is even more emphasized with her black hair and shades), one might not realize that she is one of the most coveted designers amongst the young and funky.

Her threads are frequently seen on the backs of young Hollywood. After using rock stars like Dave Navarro and James Iha in her runway shows, even more of America has become aware of this talented designer.

The daughter or Chinese immigrants and growing up in Dearborn, MI, Anna’s lifelong dream was to design clothes. Her parents were supportive of this and when she was a teenager, sent her to the Big Apple to check out acclaimed design college, Parsons School of Design, where she eventually studied for two years.

Anna styled with friend Steven Meisel and designed for several sportswear companies on the side created a few pieces of her own, launching her first collection in 1980. Macy’s bought them and even featured them in an ad. After her employer demanded she quit doing her own thing or she’d lose her job, Anna decided to go it alone full-time.

Anna’s business continued to grow throughout the 1980s. In 1991, Anna presented her first runway collection in New York. The following year she opened her first flagship store on Greene Street in Soho. She has also launched cosmetics, fragrance, shoe and accessory licenses.

She initially became famous for the romantic pirate look she popularized in the early 1990s. Since then, she has become renowned for her eclectic stylings, mixing things like Chanel style suits with 70′s glam. She has said that music is an extremely important influence over her and that there’s nothing like going to a club and hearing live music.

In her Spring 1994 show, the grunge favorite baby-doll dress became her staple. She further showed her love of music in her Spring 1997 collection which featured handkerchief dresses that Stevie Nicks might’ve worn 20 years ago.

Not surprisingly, Anna credits both Nicks and Courtney Love as sources of inspiration. “I think everyone is influenced by their youth, by that time in your life when everything that happens seems critical, and certain songs become anthems for you”.

As of 2009 Anna Sui has 32 boutiques in five countries and her collection is sold in 300 stores in over 30 countries. Most recently, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) announced the 2009 Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Anna.