There are no dead-ends in Anna Sui’s world. The road of inspiration is winding and long, often spanning decades and genres. What started as a casual rewatch of the 1921 film Enchantment, a Taming of the Shrew retelling starring Marion Davies as a snooty flapper, led Sui to the Wiener Werkstatte furniture designer Joseph Urban. Urban provided a pathway into a larger exploration of Wiener Werkstatte aesthetics and design, inspiring Sui to create her own versions of the movement’s lily of the valley and windowpane prints for her resort 2022 collection. They appear in a broad range of materials, from thick lace to nylon to viscose, coloring boxy minidresses and ruched tops.
For a splash of color, she pulled in a couple Majolica references, and then asked Bonnie Robbins, a young designer she spotted at the New York boutique Café Forgot, to design some fun jewelry in collaboration. A babydoll dress once worn by Madonna, with a giant black bow in the back, was re-issued this season, and in a similar pop culture vein, Sui also used a red tweed to cut her own version of Cher Horowitz’s mini suit in Clueless. In some way, the story of the collection starts with a chic flapper and ends with a stylish Valley Girl.
But the women who will actually be wearing these faux fur checkerboard coats and scalloped edge mesh leggings are probably more like Sui’s nieces. There’s Isabelle, who designed the Wiener Werkstatte-inspired borders for the lookbook and graphic elements for this collection, who welcomes me to the studio in a blue smock dress. Jeannie, a filmmaker who photographed the lookbook, arrives later on in cool, slightly flared trousers and a graphic tee. Chase is usually hanging out in a miniskirt or blazer, but she couldn’t make it to Manhattan because she’s been filming season two of her hit show Genera+ion on HBO Max. As a designer, Sui has always excelled at harmonizing disparate ideas, but with her trio of cool girl nieces by her side, she’s found new ways to modernize her aesthetic for a new generation, creating the bucket hats and tight tops Gen Z loves while still filling her racks with the prairie dresses and sweet suits her older clients remember.