Anna Sui Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear | Runway
Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear

The location was Heaven Can Wait, a club in the East Village, but the vibe Anna Sui was channeling tonight was the Peppermint Lounge. She stumbled across an old snapshot of her friend Jane Holzer dancing there in Chanel couture in the 1960s recently and was riveted. The Peppermint Lounge was an Italian restaurant on West 45th Street that was briefly the hottest club in the world. The Ronettes and the Beach Boys played there and the Beatles stopped by on their first trip to the US. Wikipedia says that Jackie Kennedy was such a fan that she arranged for a pop-up Peppermint Lounge to be set up in the White House.

Backstage Sui explained the long lost club’s hold on her. “I feel like this generation is missing out on that intimacy of having a place to go and dance. Where you don’t have your phones, and you’re just checking each other out and getting dressed up for each other,” she said. “I love the whole idea. It’s human.”

The best part of an Anna Sui show is often the history lesson that comes with it. This season, it wasn’t just the Peppermint Lounge she was hyping up, but her own past, as well. Sui has Millennial and Gen Z nieces and nephews; she knows that cohort is into the ’90s and 2000s. So sprinkled amongst the ’60s-inspired a-line shifts were crochet caps lifted from her 1993 grunge collection and bunny ear hats from another show circa 1998—“since it’s the year of the bunny, I thought, okay, let’s bring them back.” She added the rubber-soled cowboy boots to the mix because she once had a pair of gold Fiorucci cowboy boots, but she lent them to Linda Ramone, and never got them back.

As New York Fashion Week has gotten started, designers keep talking about the personal. Sui figures it’s because of all the pandemic-time reflection. “I’m also at a stage in my career,” she added, “where I’m asking myself, what else do I need to express? So much of the time I didn’t think about myself and thought about fantasy. And this time it just kind of all came out.” Another throwback at Sui’s show: the way the models shimmied through the crowd, making eye contact with Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola, and Holzer, who still wears her hair in the tease she did in that old black-and-white photo. These days, the kids don’t dance and models don’t smile. Why? At Sui’s show, both happened and we all left happier.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

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