Anna Sui’s mood board is a sight to behold. It takes over a wall in her office, rich with colorful drawings, lush fabric swatches, pages torn from books. It’s a cherished peek into her creative process, evoking the emotion, wonder and joy that her spring collection does. It’s hard to not smile as she excitedly walks one through how the board comes to life in her work. For spring, it’s a life aquatic: Sui spoke about a trip to Australia’s Gold Coast and a George Méliès film, “The Kingdom of the Fairies,” leading to her sublime spring underwater fantasy. “My idea of underwater is a fantasy,” she said, “but we have to be concerned about the loss of reefs and what is happening to the ocean, too.”
Shown in a small movie theater downtown, the collection had an iridescence — think shells, pearl and the glimmer of water at sunset — throughout. There were oversize chunky cardigans with bright fish; glittery print jersey separates; princess dresses, and vegan leathers, all loose and fluttery.
“I love a caftan,” she quipped. Who doesn’t when it’s done like this?
Then there was botanical warp-print denim, and blue-ish sequin dresses with sheer cutouts topped off with a paper-thin silver parka with an octopus doodle on the back. It all felt dreamlike but with her decidedly downtown modern edge. Bohemian is a word often used in fashion but Sui’s take — she has lived it and has close ties to rock ‘n’ roll — always feels authentic, which is probably why it still strikes a chord with her customer.
She topped it all off with shell jewelry from Erickson Beamon, tie-dyed John Fluevog sandals and, of course, her own cat-eye sunglasses.