Anna Sui (born August 4, 1964) is an American fashion designer. She was named one of the "Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade" and in 2009 earned the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), joining the ranks of Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg. Her fashion brand includes clothing, shoes, cosmetics, eyewear, and accessories, as well as a line of fragrances. Anna Sui products are sold through her free-standing stores and distributors around the world in over 50 countries. In 2006, Fortune estimated the collective value of Sui's fashion empire at over $400 million.

Early life

Anna Sui

Sui was born on August 4, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan to French-educated Chinese emigrants. By the time she was four years old, Sui knew she wanted to be a designer. As a teen, she read an article in Life Magazine about a girl who graduated from Parsons design school in New York and then moved to Paris, where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton opened the girl a boutique. As Sui recalls, "As a kid, you think 'wow', you’ve found the magic ticket...all you have to do was move to New York and go to Parsons." Years later, when Sui went back and re-read the article, she realized the girl’s father was the legendary photographer, Irving Penn. Sui moved to New York and attended Parsons The New School for Design.

Early career

After finishing her second year at Parsons, Sui was hired by juniors clothing label Charlie's Girls, the first of several jobs where she learned by designing for sportswear labels and doing styling on the photography shoots of friend and former Parson's classmate Steven Meisel. During this time, she began designing and making clothes out of her apartment. While working for the sportswear company Glenora, she brought her collection of five pieces to a New York trade show, and caught the attention of a couple of New York department stores. A few weeks later, those clothes were featured in a New York Times advertisement. The manager at Glenora, where Sui was still on the payroll, was furious when he saw the advertisement in the Times and fired her on the spot.

Left without a job, Sui took her $300 in savings and started a business out of a little corner in her apartment's living room. For several years, Sui ran the company out of her apartment, doing odd-jobs for spare income and reinvesting every penny of earnings into her business. The 1980s was the height of “power-dressing” companies such as Chanel, Lacroix and Versace; Sui struggled to stand up next to the big-name fashion houses. In 1991, Sui's supermodel friends Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista got together and encouraged her to try a runway show. Sui rented a small space in the Meatpacking District and paid the models by giving them the clothes. The successful show was the biggest breakthrough of Sui's career: "That those beauties (Campbell and Evangelista) were then at the height of their fame helped stoke the reception Sui got from buyers and the news media."

Anna Sui Line

Anna Sui

That year, Sui opened her first retail location at 113 Greene Street in New York City's Soho District. The flagship store, with its lavender walls, red floors, antique black furniture, and signature dolly head mannequins has become a staple of SOHO fashion and has guided the aesthetic of Anna Sui stores worldwide. Evoking the Anna Sui lifestyle, "the stores have come to emphasize the epitome of culture in a continually shifting fashion world."

Sui designs and manufactures her signature collection in her New York City headquarters on Fashion Avenue. In addition to her work as a designer, Sui has ardently fought to keep the industry alive and has spearheaded a campaign to "Save the Garment Center", which was highlighted during Fashion Week in September 2008. Sui's designs attract many famous clients such as Blake Lively, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Coppola, Liv Tyler, and Courtney Love.

Anna Sui Shoes premiered on the runway for the fall collection in 1994. Manufactured in Venice, Italy, the shoe collection includes both day and evening styles, in velvet, silk, patent leather, snake and lizard skin, shearling and suede.

In 2009, Sui partnered with Target to produce a Gossip Girl inspired line combining Upper East Side style with a downtown edge. The limited edition collection was available for several weeks in September. A children’s line known as "Anna Sui Mini" debuted in early 2009. Sui was also contracted by Samsung Electronics Co. to design cellular telephones.


Anna Sui

For her innovative work, Sui has been called a designer who "never panders" by The New York Times, and earned the distinction of being named to Time magazine's list of the decade's top five fashion icons.


Anna Sui

Sui introduced her fragrance and cosmetic line in 1999.

  • Night of Fancy
  • Live Your Dream
  • Dolly Girl Lil' Starlet
  • Flight of Fancy
  • Magic Romance
  • Dolly Girl Bonjour L'Amour!
  • Secret Wish
  • Dolly Girl on the Beach
  • Dolly Girl Ooh La love
  • Dolly Girl
  • Sui Love
  • Sui Dreams
  • Anna Sui Classic
  • Rock Me
  • Rock Me! Summer of Love
  • Forbidden Affair
  • Fairy Dance
  • La Vie De Boheme

See also

  • Chinese Americans in New York City


Anna Sui

External links

Anna Sui
  • Official Site
  • Anna Sui Cosmetics
  • Fortune Fashion
  • Testing Her Strong Suit GUY TREBAY, February 11, 2009
  • Anna Sui collections at style.com
  • Anna Sui's Spring 2003 casual inspiration, JCReport
  • Vogueapedia Anna Sui biography

Anna Sui

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