The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) celebrated the opening of its latest exhibition, The World of Anna Sui, during New York Fashion Week on September 10, 2019.
The major retrospective of iconic American fashion designer Anna Sui features seventy-five looks from the designer’s archive – from her groundbreaking inaugural fashion show of 1991 to her Spring 2019 collection – and illuminates Sui’s creative process and influences that contribute to her signature aesthetic sensibility. What is here is a marvelous retrospect of styles, making you crave yesteryear.
Hosts Michele Cohen (MAD’s Board Chair), Chris Scoates (MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director) and Jane Holzer welcomed guests. “We are thrilled to present The World of Anna Sui at MAD,” said Scoates, “Anna represents the best of American design and this exhibition of her work epitomizes the Museum of Arts and Design’s vision of pushing forward new multidisciplinary interpretations of craft, design, culture and technology.”
Sui, surrounded by friends including Zandra Rhodes, Garren, and Fern Mallis said “It’s great that the exhibition is now in New York, my home town! It’s wonderful that all the people I’ve been working with over the years can come together and reminisce about the body of work we’ve produced. The experience is very emotional for me.”
Hundreds filled the Museum for the opening including Chairmen Emerita Barbara Tober MAD Board Members Michael Dweck, Jerry and Simona Chazen, Laura and Lewis Kruger, Linda Plattus, Andi Potamkin, Malini Shah, and Barbara Waldman as well as guests Mickey Ateyeh, Andrew Bolton, Brian Bolks, Bob Gruen, Alva Chinn, Francisco Costo, Karen and Eric Erickson, Jesse Frohman, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Michele Hicks, Susan McKagan, Thomas Miller, Bill Mullen, Brenda Vaccaro, Stuart Vevers.
But make no mistake is Sui’s amazing collection that takes up two floors.
Sui is one of New York City’s most beloved and accomplished fashion designers, known for creating contemporary original clothing inspired by in-depth research into vintage styles, cultural arcana, art history, graphic design, European and Asian decorative arts, film, and more. Sui joined New York’s creative cultural underground at a rich time in the 1970s, forging important, lasting relationships in the worlds of fashion, photography, art, music, and design.
The World of Anna Sui will be open at The Museum of Arts and Design, in New York City’s Columbus Circle, from September 12, 2019, through February 23, 2020. Arranged thematically, The World of Anna Sui is driven by Sui’s thirteen design archetypes—Rock Star, Schoolgirl, Punk, Nomad, and Surfer, to name a few—that are infused with seemingly incongruent influences, including French interior designer and antiques dealer Madeleine Castaing, the London boutique Biba, pirates, pre-Raphaelite maidens, Yves Saint Laurent, and Minnie Mouse. The garments, sketches, mood boards, videos of runway presentations, and cultural ephemera on view trace Sui’s eclectic career and illuminate her creative process.
On view will be fashions worn by Sui’s personal style icons Anita Pallenberg and Jane Holzer, as well as favorite inspirational clothing designed by Zandra Rhodes, Norma Kamali, and Betsey Johnson.
Hallmark outfits from Anna Sui collections also will be represented in the exhibition, from the “Backless Chaps” worn by Naomi Campbell in the Fall 1992 runway show to the “Silver Peruvian Ensemble” from Spring 1994 to one of the iconic “Babydoll Dresses” worn by Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington. All looks featured will be shown in context with the original backdrops from Oliphant Studio used in Sui’s arresting fashion shows. Mood boards from Anna Sui’s Fall 2019 “Poptimistic” collection, direct from the designer’s studio, will illustrate Sui’s creative process and give visitors an insider’s view of how each collection is developed.
Anna Sui’s collections take people on a creative journey that is unparalleled in the world of fashion. Mixing vintage inspiration with current cultural obsessions, she effortlessly designs hip and exuberant original clothing. Anna Sui’s first fashion show in 1991 earned her international acclaim. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) recognized Anna Sui with its Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent in 1993, and honored her again in 2009 with the prestigious Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. Anna Sui’s products are sold in over 300 stores in 30 countries. The Anna Sui line also includes her very popular fragrance and cosmetic collections, as well as successful footwear, eyewear, and jewelry licensees. Anna Sui designs and manufactures directly from her New York City studio. Her runway shows continue to inspire and set trends through her signature lens. The Anna Sui brand has been independently owned since its inception in 1981.
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first-century innovation, and fosters a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design. For more information, visit madmuseum.org.
The “Backless Chaps” worn by Naomi Campbell. Thomas Miller, Anna Sui’s personal assistant, told me a hilarious story about how Anna wanted butterfly tattoo’s on all the models that year. Tattoo’s were not popular back then and these were the press on type. Anna not wanting other males to touch her models, had Thomas apply them. When the picture of Naomi and her tattoo made the fashion magazine, Thomas’s father saw it in the barbershop and told all who were there, that his son was responsible.
The museum has gone all out for this exhibit with painting the elevators to match Anna’s logo, to a gift store filled with wonderful gifts.
This is one exhibit that will have you dreaming of fashion. Or at least pick up one or two of her newest designs.