Sunday, 20 August 2017

Anna Sui at the Fashion and Textile Museum

As well as Balenciaga, my recent London trip involved going to lots of other exhibitions; A Handful of Dust at the Whitechapel Gallery, Chris Ofili at the National Gallery (thanks to Sue Carter for telling me about that one) and, erm, one on plywood (I know, I know, please don’t judge me!). But the only other one I’m going to post about is The World of Anna Sui at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

At the entrance

“The World of” is an appropriate title, because what really came across was the designer’s overall vision; an aesthetic which carried across all of the work on display, regardless of which collection it came from. The main hall was set out in the style of an Anna Sui boutique; black lacquered furniture, Tiffany-style lamps, Art Nouveau swirls, and mannequins with papier maché heads. There was even a fake palm tree from a catwalk show!

Boots and accessories in a lacquer cabinet

Lots of purple, red and black

The palm tree

The clothes were arranged into “Anna’s Archetypes”; characters or eras which represented the themes which have been present throughout her career.

'Punk', with 'Grunge' just visible on the left, and 'Mod' on the right

I loved the flowery headdress in 'Nomad'

'Retro', with a mostly 1940s look

Needless to say, I particularly like 'Retro', especially the hats!

Three different looks with straw, flowers and veiling


James Coviello designs all Anna Sui's hats

Suit in 'Androgyny'

I really liked this embroidered dress from the 'Mod' archetype, I was just sorry that so little of it was visible. My first embroidery project in primary school sewing was a design (and colours) very similar to this!

Embroidered shift dress

The upstairs display was more about accessories, and the design process.

Lion and Butterfly caps

A long display showed the mood boards which Sui creates for each group within a collection, alongside a completed outfit.

Mood boards

Two boards, with inspirations and fabric samples

With the exception of one case, the exhibits in the Balenciaga exhibition were almost all plain, and let the cut and the drape make the impact. Here however it was far more about embellished details. As ever with the Fashion and Textile Museum, the lack of glass meant that you could really get a good look at (and good photographs of) the pieces on display.

Bias strips on net and fabric flowers decorate this 2012 silk crepe de chine dress

I loved the clothes, but I must confess that I just couldn’t get on with the papier maché heads. Blame it on my north-west roots, but for me they were just too reminiscent of Frank Sidebottom, something which did not help the overall look at all! (I appreciate that this is a reference which will mean nothing to anyone outside a 50-mile radius of Timperley - or indeed, many people within a 50-mile radius of Timperley.)

I, too, had my hands to my face at times!

This aside, I really enjoyed the exhibition. Before it, I knew nothing about Anna Sui apart from the name, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm very glad I went to find out.

The World of Anna Sui runs until 1 October 2017.


  1. I'm not going to look at your photos or read your post because I'm heading up there next month and don't want spoil it! I was a huge Anna Sui fan in the 1990s and have been dying to see this exhibition, so Mum and I have both booked a day off work to make sure we catch it before it closes. I'll definitely have a read of this once I've been! xx

    1. I look forward to hearing what you think, but I'm pretty sure you'll love it! xx