The world of Anna Sui has always been chock full of pop culture references. As of late, the designer has been looking to the past, both inside her vast archive and out, blending retro nostalgia with youthful, modern flair. For fall, Sui referenced ’20s opulent Art Deco, ’60s Mod and the flair of ’80s New Wave, peppering ’90s Brit pop and punk and Y2K influences for her delightful, upbeat collection.
“When I started thinking about this collection, I was thinking of the period of New Wave. I loved the artists that did all the album covers for The Psychedelic Furs, Billy Idol, David Bowie — which was Derek Boshier and Barney Bubbles. When I was looking at the art, I thought it was very Art Deco, so I mixed that in; then I incorporated Mod into the whole thing because I saw a great documentary on ‘Ready, Steady, Go,’ which was a TV program in England in the ‘60s. They would debut bands — their hostess Cathy McGowan was the trend setter. She had a Vidal Sassoon haircut and wore Mary Quant. Whatever she wore set the pace and whatever bands went on the show were number one in England the next week. The Beatles, the Stones — all the early British groups.”
She quite literally set the stage — debuting a “Ready, Steady, Go” rock ‘n’ roll fashion film set (directed by her niece Jeannie Sui Wonders) at the Bowery Electric with fashionably eclectic bandmates and audience to match.
Offering her take on the music program’s stylish King’s Road cast, Sui had cute show-going couples in layers of mohair New Wave color-blocked knits, black patent pants and genderless power plaid blazers (accessorized with John Fluevog creepers, Sui-themed band pins and studded punk belts). There were paillette and sequined party-ready frocks, schoolgirl dresses with faux fur coats (both zebra and shaggy) and Deco neckties, tweedy miniskirts, English leather coats, Michael Economy “Bubblegum Girl” graphic T-shirts, and homespun granny square crochet knits with Lurex fishnet tights and layers of adorable printed separates, topped off with plastic pop jewelry (a la the punk days from Funk Plus) and laser-cut name plate belts. Sui even brought back James Coviello’s famous doggy backpacks, which he had made for her in the ’90s, in shades of tangerine dream and purple haze.
Sui certainly had fun this season, and it showed. It won’t take long for the designer’s fashionable ensemble to dance their way into the reopening nightlife scenes of today.