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WHEN ANNA MET ANDREW: Anna Sui is receiving this year’s CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, which prompted the Friends of The Costume Institute to get the designer to muse on her career and views on fashion in a conversation with curator Andrew Bolton.
And so on a rainy Tuesday evening, a troop of loyal fashion lovers trekked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jane Holzer, Lauren Santo Domingo, Michele Gerber Klein and Stephen Burrows settled into the museum’s Uris Center, where Sui and Bolton chatted about everything from her Carnaby Street-inspired first collection to her long-standing love affair with music and rock-concert culture. Reminiscing about a collection inspired by Stevie Nicks, Sui recalled voicing her disdain for Fleetwood Mac at a time when she favored punk rock. Little did she know Nicks would personally pick up the phone and dial her digits — though not to give her the expected tongue-lashing. “She loved that I said that I hated them,” Sui recalled. “She said, ‘Why don’t you come to the concert?’”
Nicks wasn’t the only musician who showed her affection for the designer. In her 1994 grunge collection, Dave Navarro modeled a skimpy women’s top. “How did you get Dave Navarro into a camisole?” Bolton queried. Turns out, Sui had run into the guitarist in an elevator. Never missing a beat, she suggested he model in her show. “He asked me, ‘Will there be lingerie involved?’”
With the Costume Institute’s forthcoming exhibit on “The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion,” it was only natural the talk turned to famed supermodels — an era Sui is all too familiar with. “It’s no secret that one of my best friends is Steven Meisel,” she said, explaining how she became close friends with supes like Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell. They were assets when it came to planning her first runway show in 1991. “Naomi and Linda said, ‘We’ll get all the girls for you,’” Sui recalled.