Right after I graduated from college and was struggling to find a job, I ended up working at this children’s clothing boutique a few blocks from Washington Square Park in Manhattan. I pretty much hated working there, it was typical crappy retail—no breaks unless you smoke, no sitting, limited bathroom and lunch breaks, and lots of dealing with obnoxious wealthy customers. But one day, while I was standing there at the counter, staring at the kids clothes that cost twice as much as my own, in walked one of my favorite people—Anna Sui.
She came in with two little girls in tow, they were ridiculously cute, I don’t now if they were her own kids but they looked like she let them get dressed in her closet. They had on beads and adorable frilly outfits and were having tons of fun running around the store. I just stood there starstruck. I’ve seen my fair share of celebrities, but Anna Sui was the first who made me stop in my tracks. I had discovered her fashions in high school and used to cut out her ads and obsess over her patterns and makeup packaging, so I was kind of in shock as I stood there in the tiny shop on University Place. So in she walked, and in a flash she was out again. It took me a moment to convince myself it had happened, and then a second to kick myself for not saying anything. But really, what do you say? “I think you’re amazing! You’re my favorite designer! I love purple!” All those things come off as lame, and also, when a celebrity is with kids, courtesy dictates you should leave them alone.
Whether I had the courage to speak to her or not, Anna Sui remains one of my favorite people. If I had a bad day at work, or if I was just bored, I would go to her store on Greene St. and look at all the pretty clothes I could never afford, and play with the beautiful perfume bottles and cute accessories until I felt better.
So it was pretty exciting when my friend Jessica called yesterday to say she was at the Coterie trade show sitting across from the Anna Sui booth. I demanded pictures and she quickly provided them for me to share with you.
I keep looking at this dress, it just makes me happy. It’s sort of gypsy ballerina, and who wouldn’t want that?
Her classic cute signage and doll heads.
I’ll take any one of those dresses please.
Cute boots! I’ll take that folder too.
If you want to be super jealous check out Anna Sui’s home, which was featured in Elle decor, I especially love the latticed windows and her signature black lacquered furniture.
And the woman herself in her domain, I love that wallpaper too.
What I love about Anna Sui is that she’s a rare designer who makes what she loves whether it’s “in” that season or not. She doesn’t blindly follow trends, she makes clothes that are beautiful and interesting and she has a very distinctive style that always sets her clothes apart. She makes clothes that are overtly feminine and girly, but with a hard edge. All her products manage to seem fun, bad-ass, magical, and elegant all at the same time.
Sui is also a great example of someone who struggled to achieve her dreams. She came to New York from Detroit in the 1980s and built a name for herself designing clothes out of her small apartment living off nothing, and now her empire is worth over $400 million—now that’s pretty damn inspiring.