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There’s an Anna Sui fashion retrospective coming to London

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Anna Sui is credited with defining the look of Generation X, and has dressed everyone from Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to Kate Middleton.

Now, in what’s certainly an overdue announcement, the fashion designer is finally getting her very first dedicated exhibition, celebrating her work over the past 20 years.

Curated by the Fashion and Textile Museum, The World of Anna Sui will open its doors in May next year, and will be the first ever retrospective of an American designer to be held in London.

Naomi Campbell Anna Sui catwalk

Naomi Campbell on the runway for Anna Sui, New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2004

Hailed as one of the best ‘storytellers’ the fashion world has ever seen, Sui staged her first runway show in 1991 – the ‘school uniforms’ from which have gone down in fashion’s history books – after being coaxed into it by friends and longtime fans Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford.

Her babydoll dresses, layered fabrics and fusion of femininity with grunge soon earned her cult status, with the 1994 collection widely being considered her global ‘breakout’ moment.


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“As young creatives rediscover and reference the 1990s, it is time to explore the original designs in a critical context,” Celia Joicey, head of the Fashion and Textile Museum, tells WWD.

“Through The World of Anna Sui, we hope to highlight a fresh cultural perspective on the so-called ‘slacker’ generation. The exhibition will showcase a fashion designer who, contrary to the stereotype, is not only highly creative and entrepreneurial, but also playful and positive.”

Kate Middleton wearing Anna Sui

Kate Middleton wearing Anna Sui during her tour of India, April 2016

The exhibition will feature mood boards, sketches, photographs and key pieces from Sui’s collections over the years, all grouped according to several of the designer’s key themes, such as the bohemian, the goth, the punk, the rocker and the schoolgirl.

There’ll also be an area dedicated to her creative collaborations with icons including models Evangelista, Turlington and Campbell, make-up artist Pat McGrath, jewellery designer Erickson Beamon and fashion designer James Coviello.

Naturally, Sui is playing a hands-on role in the planning and execution of the homage.


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“I am completely thrilled, and I am very involved,” she tells vogue.com. “I worked closely with curator Dennis Nothdruft on deciding which looks from my archive to include and I’m working on a book at the same time. Though not an official catalogue of the show, the chapters will be arranged in the same way the mannequins will be grouped in the exhibit by theme.”

The World of Anna Sui will be at The Fashion and Textile Museum from May 26 to October 1 2017, see ftmlondon.org for tickets and more info.

Images: Rex

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