Recipient of the 2009 Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award
The career of Anna Sui is a classic American success story. “You have to focus on your dreams, even if they go beyond common sense. How could this young girl from the suburbs of Detroit become a success in New York? It was always that dream,” she says. Today Anna Sui has 32 boutiques in 5 countries and her collection is sold in 300 stores in over 30 countries. Anna still has the same love of fashion that she did when she was a little girl.
At age four, she decided that she would become a designer and started to make her own clothes. She mixed a very serious approach to learning her craft with eccentric ideas, such as vowing not to wear the same outfit twice in one year. “I was completely obsessed,” she says, “I don’t know how my parents put up with me.” Before the end of her senior high school year, she was accepted to Parsons School of Design in New York. After two years at Parsons, Anna styled with friend Steven Meisel and designed for several sportswear companies before launching her first collection in 1980.
In 1980, Sui presented six original pieces at the Boutique Show and immediately received an order from Macy’s, which in turn featured one of her designs in a New York Times advertisement. That same year, Anna Sui launched her own business, operating out of her apartment, where she would work from for the next decade. In 1991, Anna Sui premiered her first runway show, featuring her signature “head-to-toe” look and prompting the New York Times to proclaim it a “pastiche of hip and haute styles.” In that same year, Sui moved her business and showroom to its current location in the Garment District.
In 1992, Anna won the CFDA’s Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent.
Between the years of 1999 and 2006, Anna Sui launched 5 fragrance lines, a cosmetic line, a limited-edition phone with Samsung, a limited-edition Anna Sui boho Barbie, and her signature collection became globally distributed.
Called a designer that “never panders” by The New York Times, Anna Sui continues to design and manufacture her signature Anna Sui Collection in her New York City headquarters. Her runway shows continue to set trends and inspire designers everywhere. Sui’s signature wit and original designs draw legions of devotees to her pieces.
Anna Sui will be awarded the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award on June 15, 2009 at the annual CFDA Fashion Awards.
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