Anna Sui will be awarded the Medal of Honor by the National Arts Club on March 6.
Sui is being recognized by the NAC’s president, board of governors, and the fashion committee for her outstanding achievements and career in fashion. The ceremony will be held at the NAC clubhouse at 15 Gramercy Park South in New York at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s such an honor and such a thrill, especially when you see the list of people who have received this award. It’s kind of surprising,” said Sui on Monday.
Previous honorees for fashion have been Geoffrey Beene, Carolina Herrera, Betsey Johnson, Patricia Field, Iris Apfel, and Narciso Rodriguez. In other fields, winners have included Ang Lee, Benny Goodman, Lynn Redgrave, Toni Morrison, Tennessee Williams, Ed Ruscha, Louise Nevelson, Arthur Miller, John Irving, and Leonard Bernstein.
Sui said she found out about the award around the holidays. She said she’s only been to the National Arts Club three times. “Most of the time I’m ooh’ing and aah’ing over that Tiffany bar. It’s really kind of a treasure,” she said.
Speakers for the evening will include William Ivey Long, costume designer and past Medal of Honor recipient, and Barbara Gifford, assistant curator at The Museum of Arts and Design.
“During her decades-long career, Anna Sui has been applauded by many for her rock ‘n’ roll-inspired designs, worn by stars from Madonna to Mick Jagger,” said Linda Zagaria, president of The National Arts Club.
In the spring of 2017, the first retrospective exhibition of her work, “The World of Anna Sui,” opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, and traveled to Tokyo in the summer of 2018. It is currently on view in New York at The Museum of Arts and Design through Feb. 23. The exhibition displays her designs in rooms outfitted like her boutiques with Victorian furniture, purple walls, papier-mâché dollyheads, rock ‘n’ roll posters, and red floors. It features 75 looks complete with accessories, shoes and hats and highlights the designer’s collaborations, collections, interior work and process. Some 13 design archetypes are displayed, including Rock Star, Schoolgirl, Punk, Nomad and Surfer.
Discussing the exhibition at The Museum of Arts and Design, Sui said, “It’s been so great. The attendance has been amazing. We had ‘Sui Saturdays’ where we had different people speak.” Karen Elson, Pat McGrath and Garren spoke, and Tim Blanks will speak on Feb. 11. The exhibition has also been showing some of Sui’s favorite films, such as “Puzzle of a Downfall Child,” and “Marie Antoinette,” (and Sofia Coppola spoke), and on deck is Ken Russell’s “The Boy Friend,” with Twiggy on Feb. 20. “It’s just been really fun and really connecting with so many people. People are just coming out of the woodwork, people who used to work here 20 years ago, even childhood and family friends, it’s incredible. When Sofia spoke, her parents [Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola] came to the viewing,” said Sui.
Asked how the preparations for her fashion show, which takes place at Spring Studios on Feb. 10, are coming along, she said, “We’re getting there. I can never tell. It’s been fun doing it and intense. It’s very different for me this time. Last time it was so ethereal and pastel-ly, and this time it’s much darker.” Is she feeling the same excitement about New York Fashion Week?
“It’s different,” she said. “In general, it’s different.”