Behind the Seams: Anna Sui

Nobody mixes girlie, trendy, and rock ‘n roll quite like Anna Sui, and we are beyond excited to add her designs to the Rent the Runway collection.  Her internationally-influenced designs are known for being fun, colorful, and uniquely Anna.  We went behind the seams with the designer to find out how the sixties inspire her, whether she’ll do a home collection, and more.

Anna Sui


Tell us the story behind your latest line.

I once met the Ormsby-Gore sisters. They were the great trendsetters of 1960’s London fashion and EVERYONE followed what they wore. The first thing I wanted to know from them was: Why did the geometric “Mod” style of the early 60’s abruptly turn into the romantic “Dandy” look of the later 60’s?  They explained that there was a big auction of the famous Ballets Russes costumes and sets at Sotheby’s (in 1967).  They couldn’t afford the prima ballerina costumes so they bought up the things worn by the “corps de ballet” and started wearing them on the street. At that time, the flea market on Portobello Road was filled with Victorian things- to add into the mix of burnished velvets, antique lace, tarnished lame, gypsy fringe and jewel encrusted tulle…so these were the “stuff” you could find. The recent exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, “Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes” showed film footage of that actual auction. I just loved discovering that, pinpointing the exact moment when a spark of inspiration was the genesis for change…pop culture shifted from the early mod style of The Who, into the peacock dandy style of The Beatles.


What is something you dream of achieving but have not yet?

I’d like to do a Home collection.  I’m very interested in interior design.


How would you describe your own style?

My style is not about “age”, it’s more about spirit, and attitude.  My mother wears my designs, and so do my nieces (now that they have grown-up enough to fit the clothes).   It’s all about having fun, making an effort, opting for a little glamour, not taking yourself so seriously.


Anna Sui


What is your favorite fashion trend right now?

I’m liking longer skirts again this summer.


What was your proudest moment as a designer?

I won the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.


If you could give advice to aspiring designers, what would it be?

Be true to yourself. That is the key, do what you are best at and learn your craft.