The World of Anna Sui

February 28 – October 3, 2021

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Instillation image of The World of Anna Sui. Photo by Steven Brooke.


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The World of Anna Sui

NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale will present a major retrospective exhibition of fashion designer Anna Sui from February 28 – October 3, 2021. With over 100 looks, The World of Anna Sui explores the glamorous and eclectic world of one of New York’s most beloved and accomplished designers, and invites viewers to step inside Sui’s imagination to discover her creative process and the diverse influences that contribute to her signature aesthetic sensibility. The World of Anna Sui is organized by the Fashion and Textile Museum, London and is curated by Dennis Nothdruft.

“Originally displayed at the Fashion and Textile Museum in 2017, The World of Anna Sui continues to highlight a fresh and engaging cultural perspective. The exhibition showcases a fashion designer who is not only highly creative and entrepreneurial, but also playful and positive,” said Nothdruft. “I’m delighted that as the exhibition continues to tour internationally, the joyous and influential work of Anna Sui will be celebrated among ever-greater audiences. After successful runs in Shanghai, Tokyo and New York, I’m very much looking forward to another exciting incarnation of The World of Anna Sui at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.”

Anna Sui said, “I am delighted to partner with NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and to be able to once again see The World of Anna Sui exhibition come to life this February. I can’t wait to share all my treasured designs, collections, and inspirations and more from shows past. See you soon, Fort Lauderdale!”

Since her first catwalk show in 1991, Anna Sui has become known for creating fabulously original clothing inspired by intensive research into vintage fashion and popular culture. The exhibition ranges from early looks – such as the exuberant Carnaby Street schoolgirl outfits worn by supermodels Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell in the first runway show in 1991, to the cowgirl and cheerleader modeled by Gigi and Bella Hadid during the Spring/Summer 2017 Americana-themed collection.

“NSU Art Museum’s exhibitions explore the full range of visual culture as expressions of contemporary life,” notes Bonnie Clearwater, NSU Art Museum Director and Chief Curator. “Anna Sui shares with other artists of her generation a renewed interest in storytelling and an exploration of societal archetypes. Throughout her career Sui has inventively blended global art history, music and popular culture for each new collection. Her designs are inspired by extraordinary and creative women and her embrace of collaborations across disciplines keeps her at the forefront of fashion, art and design. We are delighted to present this compelling exhibition.”

Born in the suburbs of Detroit, Sui joined New York’s cultural underground at an intensely creative time in the 1970s, forming important relationships in the worlds of fashion, photography, art, music and design. The exhibition looks at Sui’s artistic journey through her creative process, collections, interiors, and collaborations.

Thematically arranged, the exhibition explores Sui’s lifelong engagement with an array of ‘archetypes’ including the rock star, the schoolgirl, the punk, nomads, and surfers — motifs that are featured throughout her work. From fairy tales and fables to Victoriana, Sui researches her current cultural obsessions in minute detail to create a different story with each collection.

Hallmark outfits include Sui’s “Silver Peruvian Ensemble” and iconic sequined silk organza  “Babydoll Dress” from Spring 1994. Featured looks will be displayed in context with the original backdrops used in Sui’s arresting fashion shows. Items on view will also include fashions worn by Sui’s personal style icons who include Anita Pallenberg and Jane Holzer.

Sui is known for the richness of her printed textiles, combining a complex layering and mixing of patterns, texture and colors. The show highlights Sui’s own distinctively graphic textiles as well as those created with high-profile partners such as Ascher Studio, Zandra Rhodes, Jeffrey Fulvimari and Barbara Hulanicki. In addition, the exhibition explores her design processes through mood boards, photographs, sketches, runway shots, and cultural ephemera. A section on collaborations documents her long- term creative partnerships with models such as Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, as well as with make-up artists Pat McGrath and Francois Nars, jeweler Erickson Beamon, knitwear designer and milliner James Coviello and hairstylist Garren. The influence of music is seen throughout the exhibition, from Sui’s continuing love of Bohemian chic to her seminal 1993 grunge collections.

The range of different styles on display emphasize Anna Sui’s consistent design approach as she incorporates her current passions into every garment. As it celebrates American fashion, the exhibition also provides a fascinating guide to the history of American pop culture, and an inside look into the creative process and unique world view of this iconic designer whose daring and experimental approach to design has become a mainstay of the international fashion scene.

A Conversation With: Anna Sui & Barbara Hulanicki

Iconic fashion designers Anna Sui and Barbara Hulanicki speak with NSU Art Museum’s Director and Chief Curator Bonnie Clearwater about The World of Anna Sui exhibition. Date: Sunday, March 6, 2022.

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The presentation of The World of Anna Sui at NSU Art Museum is generously sponsored by The Douglas A. Hirsch and Holly S. Andersen Family Foundation in honor of Jane B. Holzer. Additional support provided by The David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation.

The World of Anna Sui was curated by Dennis Nothdruft for the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.

The World of Anna Sui is generously sponsored by The Douglas A. Hirsch and Holly S. Andersen Family Foundation in honor of Jane B. Holzer. Additional support provided by The David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation.

Exhibitions and programs at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale are made possible in part by a challenge grant from the David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation. Funding is also provided by the City of Fort Lauderdale, AutoNation, Community Foundation of Broward, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

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