The fashionista on your list may well enjoy Andrew Bolton’s fabulous Anna Sui (Chronicle Books), a lush look at the young but vibrant career of up and coming designer Anna Sui, who was presented with the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and named one of Time magazine’s top five fashion icons of the decade.
It’s a little difficult to believe that Sui presented her first runway collection not even 20 years ago, autumn/winter 1991. The collections are all here, well represented photographically, well narrated by Bolton. But the clothes stand out: even without all the iconic models, photographers and patrons (and there are lots of all of those) Sui’s rock n’ roll style is apparent as is the reason she has come so far so fast. Sui’s clothes are seminal, but they are also — for the most part — wearable, making it obvious why she has been so copies and respected.
The designer’s work is summed up most neatly in a preface by fellow Detroit native, Jack White of The White Stripes. He talks of the timelessness of Sui’s work. “It is not retro or emulation or re-creation or even false modernity. It is a beauty that can exist in any era — past, present, or future — a beauty that does not fall prey to the wrath of novelty.” That, White says, is what Sui represents. ◊
Monica Stark is a contributing editor of January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.