Sometimes Anna Sui, who is known for her love of everything retro, can design collections that feel too groovy to be modern. But for her spring collection, which she showed last night at Lincoln Center, Sui pulled her influences from all the right sources for a collection that felt fresh, alive, and in front of the pack. Her primary inspiration was the late fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and the beauties, such as Jerry Hall and Grace Jones, who surrounded him at the 1970s hot spot Club Sept in Paris.
The gorgeous “party girls” (including model/singer Karen Elson) at Sui’s take on Club Sept strutted down the runway in a glamorous mix of ’40s prints, crepe-de-chine and chiffon turbans, and marabou fur stoles. Adorable rompers and jumpsuits were also prominent in the collection. And, as always, Sui had the accessories down pat: There were sheer tights with her signature butterflies on them, black lacy star-print ankle socks, and chunky heart-shaped necklaces.
We saw Sofia Coppola, an Anna Sui regular, vigorously nodding her head as the models went by her front-row seat. Also spotted in the front row were Lisa Marie Presley and her husband, Michael Lockwood, and Crystal Castles duo Ethan Kath and Alice Glass, who kept on her cute retro white cat-eye sunglasses. With this collection, Sui should attract even more “it” girls and rock ‘n’ roll princesses into her fold.
For his stellar spring collection, Phillip Lim said he was inspired by the “freedom and fragility” of kites, a boyhood hobby of his. What this translated into were light jackets with tails down the back, an ethereal black-and-white dress with a rectangular front that flapped against the body, and light, breezy tops with quivering flutter sleeves. A highlight was a piece described in the program as a “floating kite tail top”–which we will rename the “don’t wear on the subway top” for its vertical white strips of fabric that exposed plenty of skin in between.
But just because the Lim lady looked ready to fly away, don’t think she has her head in the clouds as well. All those feminine tops were paired with tough, no-nonsense straight-leg pants and trousers that zipped open at the ankles similar to athletic pants. At the St. John’s Center on West Street, models walked with their hands thrust into their pockets and moved quickly with confident expressions as though they were in a hurry to get to an important meeting. It’s that smart blend of fragility and power that’s kept the 38-year-old designer’s business booming: according to Fast Company, he’s expected to make $60 million in revenue this year. Not bad for a self-described shy guy from Southern California.