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Anna Sui Uses Iridescent and Metallic Textures to Explore the Ocean's Mysteries for Spring 2024

<p>Photos: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui</p>

Photos: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Throughout her long career, Anna Sui has had a unique finger on the pulse of culture. For her first runway collection in 1991, she had then-new supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista wearing her grungy-yet-colorful designs against the backdrop of her now-signature purple runway. Looking back at these images 32 years later, the impact this collection had on early-to-mid-90s aesthetics is indisputable. From the very beginning, Sui asserted her creative vision as one to be reckoned with — and 32 years later, this hasn't changed.

At first glance, the brand's Spring 2024 collection could read simply as a shimmery approach to the moment's Y2K and Gen-Z aesthetics: floral slip dresses, crochet sets and metallic mini skirts that younger generations have claimed and embraced. But with a second, much closer look at the details, a genuine message of cultural concern mixed with a deep love for the earth becomes apparent.

"I recently saw the documentary 'My Octopus Teacher,' and I just loved that story," Sui tells Fashionista. "That underwater world, it's such a mystery to all of us and we don't really know about any of it."

Sui cites a recent trip she took to Australia's Gold Coast, where she learned that coral reefs around the world are disappearing, leaving her "shocked" and "realizing the fragility of everything," she says in the show notes.

"The coral are dying, they're bleached and we've destroyed them. It's so heartbreaking," says Sui. "So, I think this was my reaction."

Sui's reaction to the ocean's anguish was, however, incredibly mindful. Rather than fall into a lens of sadness and grief, the designer turned to one of celebration — spotlighting the aspects of underwater life that she's come to know and appreciate through fairytales and movies.

"We developed most of these fabrics from scratch to create those iridescent looks and three-dimensional textures to best mimic what goes on underwater," says Sui. "I wanted to capture the waves, the swirls and the sparkle of the water to really get the point across."

For Spring 2024's venue, Sui voted against a runway, instead opting to seat the lucky attendees in an intimate movie theater on the lower level of a famed Soho hotel, with the screen serving as a backdrop.

"I love old film footage," says Sui. "The film projected behind the models was George Méliès's films "Under The Seas" (1907) and "The Kingdom of the Fairies" (1903). He created all those sets by hand, and you can see women were suspended from ropes, sliding across the stage because they didn't have the technology we have these days, but it's just as beautiful."

With each passing look, models moved through the space as if they were being carried by a wave of water — an intentional choreographic decision in line with the collection. In one look, a jacket of cool-toned, 3-D seaweed-looking appliqués perfectly illustrates the movement of water, with the garment trailing its model effortlessly and quietly — just as the ocean's inhabitants gently flutter through its streams. Throughout the collection, a foil-like fabric also simulates this aquatic motion — a result of new fabrication technology Sui is using for the first time.

"One of our new T-shirt designs and some iridescent jackets were printed on this foil paper," she says. "It's almost like those foil cover-ups that runners put on them, but it's very, very thin. I love how interesting it is to touch and feel, and also to hear the sounds the fabric makes."

Opalescent knits, metallic jacquards and "waterfall sequins" (as described in the show notes) also take center stage, again mimicking the shimmer of various bodies of water.

Sui's final message regarding the collection: "If you are as passionate about saving our underwater world as much as I am, please look to Missionblue.org for more information."

See every look from the aquatic-inspired Anna Sui Spring 2024 show, below.

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

Anna Sui Spring 2024. Photo: Raoul Gatchalian/Courtesy of Anna Sui

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