We all shine on. Or at least Anna Sui wants us to.
The collection Sui showed Monday night harkened back to a time not too long ago but seemingly ancient, a time when the youth movement du jour was about spreading love and seeking community, and everyone did it in pretty piled-on prints. Oh, the good old days.
“It’s a be-in,” Sui said backstage after the show. “We all have to be there because I think we need to focus on the beautiful, the positive — glitter and sparkles and being happy.”
The show opened in the dark with Sui’s models taking a stroll, a coed, cross-generational counterculture (remember counterculture?) bohemian brigade, including Kirsten Owen and Maggie Rizer (hardly ready for elder Earth Mother status, but they made the point) and several children. It closed with a girl with kaleidoscope eyes on the soundtrack and a girl with a missing platform shoe on the runway, her sister helping her negotiate the finale walk. (You’ve seen it by now: Bella supporting Gigi.) Two displays of what family can mean, one scripted construct, one accidental-yet-perfect punctuation.
Between the two: A Seventies fashion lovefest. Showing against a big here-comes-the-sun medallion, Sui drew from an overdrawn well and extracted something lyrical and emotional. But then, to her, that era is more than this season’s mood board; its tenets, both stylistic and cultural, are essential to her aesthetic. Here she worked the era’s tropes — flou, little minis, body-hugging Ts, Victorian lace, ruffles, decorated denim and endless prints, both celestial and floral — while integrating a deft hint of grunge. She put it together in varying degrees of piled-on while avoiding the kitsch that’s often an unintentional byproduct of retro reverie. Similarly, the young men in the lineup looked genuine rather than gender-fluid statement-y, even when all flowered up.
The beauty look featured hair worn pre-Drybar natural (read: totally undone) and shiny vertical streaks beneath the eyes. “Tears?” Sui was asked. “No,” she corrected. “They were optimism. Twinkles.”