Services will be held Saturday at the Greenwich Village Funeral Parlor for Thomas Miller, a longtime associate of Anna Sui. Miller died Saturday at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.
The 61-year-old succumbed after a series of strokes in the past few weeks, Sui said.
Born near Wisconsin and raised in California, Miller graduated from UCLA and later relocated to the East Coast. He and Sui first connected in the Eighties, when the designer was running her business from her downtown loft and in search of additional help. She said, “One of my customers, who had a store in the East Village, said, ‘Oh, I have this friend. Maybe you should meet him. He studied design at UCLA and I think you two would hit it off.’ And we hit it off — that was 33 years ago. He was with me every step of the way in building this business,” Sui said.
Describing Miller as her “right hand,” Sui said he worked on all the fashion shows, coordinated with the model agencies and production teams, worked with the numerous artists, who designed graphics and print designs for collaborations, as well as invitations and backdrops. Miller was integral in the execution of “The World of Anna Sui” exhibition, which debuted at the Zandra Rhodes-founded Fashion and Textile Museum in London, before moving on to Tokyo and then to the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
“He’s kind of been the encyclopedia of all of our time together. He remembered every outfit, every model, every accessory. I would say to him, ‘Thomas, what year was the pirate collection?’ He would know it right off the bat,” the designer said.
As Sui’s third employee, Miller segued from production to Sui’s right-hand man after seeing her packing up her own orders and realizing she could probably use some help. (Sui proved an excellent shipping mentor; “she taught me how to tape up a box,” Miller told WWD last fall.)
Miller’s quiet and unaffected demeanor served Sui and himself well. As the Detroit-born, New York-based designer became an international name, Miller preferred to stay behind-the-scenes at the company. “Every model just adored him,” Sui said. “We keep getting these e-mail and social media posts with models reaching out and asking about him. He was very loved.”
Miller lived the kind of New York life that many envision, but somehow don’t manage to get out the door to realize. “He was the person who would go to every interesting exhibition, every movie, every Broadway show, every ballet, every performance. He always knew that calendar. In fact, Sofia Coppola asked him recently, ‘Can you send me a monthly update of what’s going on in New York?’” Sui said.
Sui recalled how thrilled she was, when the New York City Ballet asked her to design costumes last fall. “I kind of did it for Thomas because I knew how much he loved the ballet. He would buy season tickets.”
Sui said, “Thomas’ motto was that he made a point of seeing something beautiful every day.”
In addition to his partner Marc Feil, Miller is survived by his father, Robert, and three brothers Bill, Joel and Robert Jr.