From September 12, 2019, through February 23, 2020, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present a major retrospective of the iconic American fashion designer Anna Sui, The World of Anna Sui. Opening during New York Fashion Week, the exhibition features 75 looks from the designer's archive—from the 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.
"Born and bred in Detroit, Anna Sui is a fascinating American design success story," said Chris Scoates, MAD's Nanette L. Laitman Director. "Season after season, Sui translates popular culture and artisanal making into collections that pulse with excitement, reflect and expand on the creative spirit of the times, and move the needle for what fashion can and should be for a diverse, global market. We are extremely excited to welcome our visitors for an unforgettable immersive experience of Anna's design universe."
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. Additionally, she is one of the original voices of the Save the Garment Center movement.
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.
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.
The World of Anna Sui follows other important MAD fashion design exhibitions of recent years, including fashion after Fashion (2017), Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture (2017), and Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin (2015). Notably, Sui's visit to the Museum to view Counter-Couture, which celebrated the handmade fashion and style of the 1960s and 1970s, provided inspiration for Anna Sui's Spring 2018 collection.