Chez Anna Sui you can always bet the runway backdrop will deliver the loudest thematic cue. This time, Sui chose a stained-glass rendering of a Woodstock landscape, one that fudged the horizon here and there. “The scene wasn’t diverse enough,” Sui deadpanned, pre-show. “So I added California’s Mount Shasta.” Which was exactly her approach to the American Art and Crafts-inspired fall collection: start from research — the Byrdcliffe artist colony; furniture maker Charles Rohlfs — and then jazz it up spectacularly.
That resulted in a wonderful collection that was keenly focused and managed not to scrimp on any of Sui’s madcap, magpie prints and pilings. In fact, she hit a number of the season’s emerging trends — velvet, grunge, platoon greens and splicing — while keeping things festive and charming. For instance: the army jacket with puffed sleeves and ruffled lace. Sui also served up a riotous parade of dresses, some Twenties-style, others rock ‘n’ roll, most in a stylish hodgepodge of turn-of-the-century prints. And if her girls don’t spot the inspirational riffs, no matter. Who cares if that faux suede dress is inspired by a Rohlfs dresser? It’s studded chicly and casually tossed over a metallic silk jacquard blouse. Ditto for the accessories, which were fantastic, especially the embroidered doctor’s bags and glitter heels. But as for those craftsy glazed ceramic tile pendants — they hail from the century-old Pewabic Pottery of Sui’s hometown, Detroit.