Anna Sui (b. 1955) is beloved for her playfully postmodern designs. Sui collections are typically full of eclectic, retro references—fun and accessible, but always with an alternative edge. (For a comprehensive discussion of Sui’s work see Andrew Bolton, Anna Sui [Chronicle Books, 2010].)
Anna Sui’s licensing agreement with Vogue Patterns lasted from the mid-1990s until quite recently. There were also Anna Sui knitting patterns, like this paillette-trimmed mohair sweater shown on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine:
This two-part series will present some highlights from Anna Sui’s earlier Vogue patterns, ordered by collection.
1. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1995 collection
Anna Sui was introduced to readers of Vogue Patterns in the July/August 1995 issue with a design from her Spring 1995, vintage ’30s and ’40s collection. Inspirations for this collection included pulp magazines, waitress uniforms, and Minnie Mouse. The collection was notable for its use of textiles, which ranged from nylon pinstripes and rubberized chiffon to prints both rockabilly and haute: some of the dresses and skirts used 1940s prints that were designed by Christian Bérard for Ascher Ltd and specially recoloured for the collection.
Vogue 1619 is a pattern for four dresses with vintage details like cut-in shoulders and puffed or tucked sleeves. The red, bouquet print in the large photo is by Christian Bérard. Vogue later proclaimed the “1940s floral look” the look of the season*:
Here’s the Bérard print dress on the runway, complete with red shoes worn with pink socks:
Vogue 1619 made the cover of Vogue Patterns’ September 1995 catalogue:
Just for fun, here’s a photo of Nicole Kidman in one of the spring collection’s pinstripe suits:
2. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 1995 collection
For Fall 1995 Sui presented a Mod collection. The show opened with Linda Evangelista on the back of a Lambretta scooter and continued with skinny mod suits and pieces in black leather and sequinned camo, referencing Andy Warhol’s camouflage screenprints.
Vogue 1702’s mod suit includes a front-pleated skirt and sleeveless top—best worn with a matching headscarf (as shown with Vogue 1789):
Linda Evangelista was photographed in the Vogue 1702 suit by Patrick Demarchelier (see top of post). A tweed version was modelled by Stella Tennant:
3. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 1997 collection
Sui’s ‘goth’ collection was presented at the Church of Divine Paternity, a neo-Gothic church on New York’s Upper West Side. Siouxie Sioux was a major inspiration for the show, which had post-punk makeup by François Nars and a wealth of textiles characteristic of old-school goth style, such as velvet, lace, lace-printed chiffon, and fishnet. As Bolton notes, the collection referenced the goth love of historicism in Vivienne Westwood-style bustles and ‘mini-crinis.’
Vogue 2072 is a pattern for two mini-crini dresses trimmed with ribbon and lace. It even includes the mesh top and fingerless gloves (see my earlier post here):
Karen Elson and Tasha Tilberg modelled the Vogue 2072 dresses on the runway, accessorized with matching fingerless gloves, sheer leggings, and beaded devil horns:
The red, view B version of the Vogue 2072 dress, complete with Sui devil horns, was photographed on a young Sofia Coppola:
4. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1998 collection
For spring 1998 Sui presented a surfer-inspired collection. Bold prints, bright colours, and bucket hats conveyed the laid-back spirit of surfer subculture, with Hawaiian, Indian, and Balinese prints and accessories evoking days spent on tropical beaches.
Vogue 2152’s three summery little dresses are like a mini vacation wardrobe:
Here are two of the Vogue 2152 dresses on the runway. The slip dress in view B was worn with a long-sleeved mesh top:
Kate Moss wears another dress from the collection in this editorial photo by Terry Richardson:
The gold-appliquéd pink sari silk was inspired by a dress belonging to the Duchess of Windsor, again bringing home the wide-ranging eclecticism of Sui’s references.
Next: Anna Sui’s Vogue patterns into the 2000s.
* Katherine Betts, “The best & worst looks of the ’90s,” Vogue, January 1996, p. 130.
9 thoughts on “Anna Sui: Vogue Patterns, Part 1”
I bought one of these patterns after reading your post.. you are a bad influence on my wallet ! 😉 Thank you!
I absolutely love your blogs! They are filled with so much information. Thank you for another fantastic post!
I love the Sui! Can’t wait for the next installment, these are wonderful!
I missed the Anna Sui posts… (well not completely because I found them) I love Anna… She has made some amazing designs. That pink one on Kate is divine… And that red dress at the beginning… sigh! Love it! Thanks for posting these!
Wow, I seem to be commenting on all your posts today. I still have the top grunge dress pattern, and the summer dress patterns. I LOVED that grunge dress, but I didn’t have the skill to make it and my version was never finished. Occasionally I think about making it again, but I cut it out along the size 8 lines and I am most definitely not size 8 now.
I made up the summer dress look (main picture on 2152) but didn’t realize that it is backless until it was too late. I could never figure out how to wear the backless summer dress without a bra so it went into the permanent unfinished-project pile.
Oh youth! How happy I was noodling around with my Anna Sui patterns on my poor Dad’s living room floor. My grandmother gave me a white Singer Featherweight that was tragically lost somewhere along the way. I wish I still had that machine.