“I feel like we’re waiting for that moment again, that explosion of creativity and color and activity, that’s what the collection was about,” Anna Sui revealed during a preview of fall. In the background, the designer’s mood board — a seasonal treasure trove of printed fabric swatches, illustrations, retro movie and band posters and loads of color — depicted a transition from black and white to full-on, colorful psychedelia.
For fall, Sui was directly inspired by the 1968 film “Wonderwall,” produced by George Harrison. Within the film, a scientist — who lives a “boring existence and is trapped in this very traditional lifestyle” — discovers a light shining through his wall, which he follows and discovers a Swinging Sixties model (played by Jane Birkin), with a dazzling lifestyle. Her rainbow-colored, fantastic existence, seen through her dress and decor — particularly a singular, whimsy wardrobe cabinet — sharply contrast with his “colorless existence.” Sui noted that all of the sets and costumes for the film were designed by The Fool, who also created The Beatles’ Apple Boutique.
Seeing the mirror image of “Wonderwall” and today’s static, “on pause” world, Sui whipped up a fantastical collection that translated from black-and-white to an explosion of exuberant colors and patterns, depicting an optimistic look toward the future. Like the original, Sui’s psychedelic look book film displayed models emerging from a bright wardrobe cabinet, painted by Sarah Oliphant, head-to-toe in “Phantasmadelic” outfits.
First up, a grouping of texturally, and visually, rich plays on black and white, with contrasting prints and graphics piled together. For instance, a chunky windowpane tweed coat atop “wavy-vibe” cropped turtleneck, vest and pull-on pant or cowhide patterned shearling jackets atop Lurex striped layers. As the film progressed, groupings of amber, magenta, teal and blue colorways translated these ideas and emerged through Sui’s whimsical fashions.
For instance, a pair of black-and-white denim jeans with psychedelic line work, hand-painted and bleached by French artist Anna Castellano (for production, these will be a limited run), which were later seen in a blue and green rendition with a chunky multicolored tweed jacket and bucket hat with woolly crochet trim, styled with a T-shirt with a peacock graphic, designed by artist Monika Forsberg.
The fantastical collection offers loads of dresses — signature bohemian styles or sexier, body hugging mesh ruched pieces with contrast lettuce edging, shifts over romantic lacy blouses (standout in brown cowhide fleece, or more fluid in black stretch sequins), and more — aptly layered with rich jackets, knits and printed underpinnings. Sui amped up whimsy on traditional fabrics through ditzy floral prints, fairy tale beaded trim, chunky fringe and thick black lace decoration.
Additional creative collaborations, as always, took Sui’s collection to the next level. Hand-knit ombre sweaters, crochet star vests and hats by Birdie Purl; psychedelic T-shirts and patches by Golden Daze Illustration and her niece, Olivia Sui; travel bags with Kipling; printed sports bras and bicycle shorts for Knix; playful footwear by John Fluevog, and hand-beaded star masks chains by another niece, Isabelle Sui. Forsberg’s fairy-tale designs were also rendered on crushed velvet fashions.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, Sui’s fashions are ready for the party on the other side.