International designer Anna Sui's involvement in fashion began at an early age,
with a devotion to dressing her dolls and her neighbor's toy soldiers for her
own personal version of the Academy Awards. Sui eventually extended her fashion
interest to include designing her own clothes and clipping fashion magazine pages
to serve as inspirations. To this very day, she continues to refer to these "genius
After graduating from high school in Detroit, Michigan, Sui moved to New York
City to attend Parsons School of Design. While at Parsons, Sui found a collaborator
and close friend in Steven Meisel, today one of the world's top fashion photographers.
Her early days as a stylist for Meisel's shoots included editorial for the Italian
fashion magazine LEI.
After leaving Parsons, Sui worked at a variety of junior sportswear companies.
In 1980, Sui presented six original pieces at the Boutique Show and immediately
received an order from Macy's, who featured one of her designs in a New York Times
advertisement. That same year, Anna Sui launched her own business that operated
out of her apartment throughout the 1980's.
In 1991, Anna Sui premiered her first runway show, featuring her signature "head-to-toe"
look and prompting the New York Times to proclaim it a "pastiche of hip and
haute styles." In that same year, Sui moved her business and showroom to
its current location in the Garment District.
In 1992, Sui opened her own boutique at 113 Greene Street in the SoHo district
of New York. The store reflects Sui's distinct taste: pairing flea market furniture
and whimsical Dolly Head mannequins in a room with purple walls and red floors.
The first of three Anna Sui freestanding boutiques in Asia opened in May 1997
in Tokyo. The second opened in Osaka in the Fall of that same year. Another
Osaka venue opened in 2000. The stores mark the continued worldwide expansion
of the Anna Sui brand and lifestyle. Isetan Company Limited is the main licensee
for the Japanese distribution of the women's collection and Mammina, a subsidiary
of Isetan, is the distributor to department and specialty stores there.
In 1997, Anna Sui Shoes premiered on her runway for Fall 1997. Manufactured
by Ballin in Venice, Italy, the shoe collection is comprised of both day and
evening styles, and include velvet, silk, patent leather, snake and lizard skin,
shearling and suede.
Called a designer that "never panders" by The New York Times, Anna
Sui continues to design and manufacture her signature Anna Sui Collection in
her New York City headquarters. Her runway shows continue to set trends and
inspire designers everywhere. Sui's signature wit and original designs draw
legions of devotees to her pieces, including clients Patricia Arquette, Christina
Ricci, Cher, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Coppola, Courtney Love of Hole and James
Iha of Smashing Pumpkins.
Photography by C. Yohance DeLoatch