ANNA SUI SPRING/SUMMER 2015 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

Anna Sui’s latest collection felt like the one she was destined to design. It stitched together—literally—a grab bag of her obsessions: London in its most fruitful late-’60s flowering, arts nouveau and deco, hippie, glam, star-crossed lovers Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg swapping clothes, defining eras….Kosmik Rock Star was Sui’s own label for this journey to the center of her mind, and sparkling, celestial space was the broad stage on which she mounted her extravaganza.
Sui’s research is unparalleled in fashion. It’s a wonder what you can find on eBay. Like the vintage Sanderson linens that were at one time cut into a jacket for George Harrison. Or the jackets that Mick Jagger’s brother Chris hand-painted for John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. Or the psychedelic posters designed by Nigel Weymouth, whose boutique, Granny Takes a Trip, was ground zero for Sui’s Spring collection. “In that period, that was what everyone had to wear,” she said. What designer wouldn’t wish to claim such authority in our own uncertain times? Sui set about re-creating Weymouth’s world as she imagined it was. Antique prints excavated on eBay—Biba-like motifs of Pierrots, cats, kewpie dolls, a man in the moon—were reproduced. Terry de Havilland, English shoemaker of legend, was commissioned to remake his most famous footwear, with motifs of clouds, rainbows, and lightning bolts. Here were Keith’s sunglasses, and there was an iridescent cape and matching pants that Pallenberg, the most satanic majesty of them all, would have sported.
What saved this trawl through the past from being an exercise in fashion necrophilia was a) Sui’s ardor and b) her genius at styling (that is, after all, how she started out in fashion). Passion persuades. Sui loves what she does as much as life itself. It shows. But she also has the smarts to compose a convincing story out of the components she creates. If her boys and girls spun down the catwalk in a lyrical cloud of shine and light, there was a distinctly modern attitude in the volumes and proportions.
And another thing: Sui and her majordomo, Thomas Miller, have been out in Bushwick looking at the psychedelic street art and coming to the conclusion that there is an idealistic groundswell, “something other than the super-modernist, minimal thing,” as she put it. That is, after all, how the Pre-Raphaelites came into being, as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution. People, there’s change afoot.

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