NEW YORK, United States — The psychedelic tsunami is building. After Valentino and Dries van Noten’s celebration of the psychonaut, Anna Sui turned on and tuned in with a collection she called Pop-sydelic. Fashion is the new acid, and Sui dressed for a nice, long trip. Her own eye for detail cried out for the lengthily contemplative response that only a lysergically altered state could give it. Thus forearmed, you could lose yourself for hours in Jamie Bochert’s opening outfit, every square inch of every layer richly patterned, sumptuously coloured. Her catwalk companion, a Syd Barrett lookey-likey named Justin, was scarcely less resplendent.
Always obsessive about research, Sui wove together a complex web of references from the Sixties — artists, musicians, designers, scene-makers – which gave her designs a substance beyond her own imaginings. One of those inspirations — Barbara Hulanicki, the Queen of Biba, who created a print for the collection — was seated front row centre.
Sui’s shows are the most completely realised in New York because, as a former stylist, she knows how to sell a story with clothes, how to infuse them with character. Longtime collaborators Pat McGrath (makeup), Garren (hair) and Fred Sanchez (music) fill in the spaces. And so it was with Sui’s new collection. The silhouettes —shifts, pinafores, baby dolls — were 1960s-period-perfect.
So was the Victoriana, and the palette, jewel-toned or precious-metallic, tones to ravish a cosmic seeker’s eye. Likewise the textures, begging to be stroked. There was a new richness for Sui in the furs, an opulent mix of faux and real. Issa Lish wrapped a tulip print shift in a cloud of azure Mongolian lamb. Her matching boots made it to mid-thigh. (Hush Puppies created the incredible footwear, which is surely a game-changer for them.)
Sui knows how to pile it on. That’s second nature for her. But there were quieter moments in the passing parade that proved how much more to her there is than a cult revivalist, however joyous — and even though her instincts in that department are so peerless as to guarantee her a place in fashion history after the passing of time liberates her from her current New York niche. A knit cardigan and skirt in a forest green interrupted by navy godets was quietly spectacular. So was the ivory broderie anglaise dress at show’s end, with its topper of goat and Mongolian lamb a feast of creamy monochrome texture. Jimi and Janis would have been well jell.