Anna Sui Fashion
Check out these photographs of Anna Sui style over the years.
Courtesy of Anna Sui
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Anna Sui Celebrates 20 Years in the Fashion Industry
Anna Sui visited New York City's Rizzoli bookstore to celebrate her new eponymous Chronicle Books tome celebrating her 20 years in the business.
Featuring over 400 photographs and a preface by Jack White and Steven Meisel, the book, written by Andrew Bolton, takes us from Sui's first show in 1991, when supermodels Kate, Naomi, and Linda volunteered to walk, up to the present.
Before sitting down for autograph duties, Sui spoke to StyleList.
StyleList: How long has this book been in the works?
Anna Sui: It took a year and a half to complete all of the work and it really gave me time to look back. In fashion you're always moving forward and on deadline and looking 6 to 9 months ahead, so it was kind of nice to reflect.
StyleList: Jack White and Steven Meisel wrote the preface. Were they the first people you thought of?
AS: Jack White presented me with the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award and had such kind words to say, so I thought it would be so fantastic to use him in the introduction. And Steven is just a natural choice since he's been such an important person in my career and life. I was thrilled that they both agreed to do it.
StyleList: What do you remember about your first collection?
AS: It was in 1991, which was the height of the powers of Versace and Chanel. The prospect of doing a fashion show was frightening. It was friends like Steven Meisel and Paul Cavaco who convinced me that I had to do it. Linda [Evangelista] and Naomi [Campbell] helped me get all the other models together, and Linda was backstage directing the dressing. Friends like Francois [Nars] and Garren did the hair and makeup, so it was a meaningful experience that all of my friends supported me.
StyleList: How did you know all of those people who are now industry giants?
AS: Steven and I had been friends since school, and through our careers we always hung out. He was working with all of these people and I would visit him at his shoots or go to dinner or throw birthday parties at my house or we'd all gather before we went out. So I knew everybody socially.
StyleList: How different was the fashion industry in 1991 compared to today? Of course, there were no fashion-themed reality shows back then.
AS: It was even before Videofashion! Well, I guess I came on the scene around the birth of Videofashion and people would come and shoot your fashion show and talk to you backstage before the show and that's kind of what made my brand international. There was a huge interest in New York fashion and there was this phenomenon of these TV shows that would broadcast all over the world. There would be people in Russia, the Middle East, and Asia that would tell me they'd seen my fashion show. That happened before the Internet exploded.
StyleList: Do you think technology and the reality shows have been a good thing for fashion?
AS: I think it's a fantastic thing that there are more people interested in fashion and following it. But I do wonder how realistic the things portrayed on reality TV are and what happens as a result. I'm sure the enrollment at design schools is bigger than ever.
StyleList: Who have been your biggest supporters over the years?
AS: Besides my parents and my friends, there were lots of retailers who really supported me and incredible fashion directors like Kal Ruttenstein. There are specialty stores and boutiques that have always bought with me, and my partnership with Isetan in Japan has been incredible and really made me famous in Asia. Members of the international press like Suzy Menkes have always covered my collections. I've been really fortunate to have these people that believed in me.
StyleList: Fashion is also a crazy-making industry. Have you ever thought about ditching it?
AS: I think that I have the best job in the world. I can use everything I'm obsessing about and curious about in my work. I work in Italy, Japan, the UK, and the U.S. I've gotten to see the best flea markets and shopping in the world and all the great museums. Unless I was a rock star, I don't know that there's any other job that would enable me to do those types of things.
StyleList: What advice would you give a budding designer today?
AS: Learn your craft and learn your resources. Without those two things, you can't go anywhere. And you can't just sometimes want to be a designer. It's not how it works. You have to be really honest with yourself about where your talent lies. Some people are better at sportswear, some people are better at evening wear. You have to be focused, which is the trait found in most successful designers. They have incredible focus.
In related news, read about a new book about the life of Isabella Blow.