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July 31, 2013 11:49 am Photographed by

Anna Sui

By MOAM Staff

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Born in Detroit, Michigan to French-Chinese parents in 1964, Anna Sui was impressed by a story of two successful Parsons School of Design graduates, and mimicking their efforts, she made her pilgrimage to New York City to attend Parsons. While attending Parsons, she befriended legendary photographer, Steven Meisel and assisted him on shoots. After graduation, she landed a job with sportswear company Glenora in 1981. While working there, Sui and a friend set up a booth at a trade show where she displayed five designs.

Her pieces were purchased by Macy’s and Bloomingdales, and she received an advertisement in The New York Times, which led to her immediate departure from Glenora. With a mere $300 in savings, she worked out of her apartment over the course of 10 years. She took odd and end design jobs, and every penny she made went into her business.

Two influential friends, models Naomi Campbell and Linda Evengelista, convinced the designer to do a runway show in 1991. Paying her friends in clothes, she presented her first collection at a small venue in the trendy Meatpacking District. The collection showcased timeless designs that transcended eras with cultural and historical inspirations, and the complete head-to-toe collection, caught the attention of buyers and the media. The show was triumphant and catapulted the Anna Sui brand name.

Sui’s designs have developed into a global brand complete with footwear (Ballin), cosmetics, eyewear, accessories, fragrances, dolls and collaborations with Target and Samsung. Her products and collections are available in 300 stores in 30 countries and more than 50 clothing and beauty boutiques internationally.

Sui continues to create designs that have the perfect balance of the girl next door with an edge. Her various lines have drawn the attention of notable celebrities such as Christina Ricci, Cher, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Coppola and Courtney Love. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent in 1992 and the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. Time magazine named Sui one of the top five fashion icons of this decade.

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