Inside Anna Sui’s Punk-Filled World At the Fashion and Textile Museum


Anna Sui is finally getting the retrospective she deserves. “The World of Anna Sui” exhibit opened this past week at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, offering a comprehensive look at Sui’s work over the last quarter century, featuring over a hundred of looks from the beloved New York designer. Known for her prints and silhouettes, Sui has a knack for interpreting an array of archetypes and giving them a whimsical touch. Smartly, the retrospective is organized not chronologically, but instead, by specific moments—her hippie collections, punk looks, her Victorian collections, and school girl pieces—showing her dedication to the look she had envisioned at her first runway show in 1991. For those who cannot make it to London there is also an accompanying book, penned by fashion critic Tim Blanks, rich with rare photographs from the likes of Sui’s friends Steven Meisel and Patrick McMullan, who would shoot her shows’ backstage scene in the ’90s. To this day, Anna Sui’s runway shows are known for having major casting (Gigi Hadid has opened recent ones) but the 90s model-of-the-moments Naomi, Christy, and Carla Bruni, all make appearances in McMullan’s photographs, and they are not to be missed.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

American fashion designer Anna Sui stands in front of a selection of models wearing looks from her runway collections from the last 25 years.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

Full runway looks are shown side by side with the designer’s inspiration images and fabric swatches, at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

Anna Sui is beloved for her rich prints and silhouettes, and she often mixes and matches red hues and blue tones in her collections, as seen in these swatches.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

The designer often created looks around different American archetypes, including the prep and the school girl, or historical fashion moments, like the hippie of the late 60s and the Victorian era.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

Rich textures and embellishments are an important part of the designer’s work.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

Some of the designer’s favorite prints and motifs are designed with the surfer girl in mind.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

Four looks from the course of Anna Sui’s quarter century designing fashion for her eponymous label.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

Before Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, Anna Sui was a more-is-more designer. Every look is layered with jewelry, headpieces, scarves, and tights.

Courtesy of Anna Sui.

A handful of swatches featuring the designers whimsical prints, including florals, on display at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum through October.