Anna Sui

Designer

| Greenwich Village

One note Anna Sui is not. Part folksy flower child, part 1920’s glam with tinges of rock n’ roll and a nod to the Orient, Sui’s collections are never short on a story. Rather, they blend the romance of the past with graphic art and global traditions in vivid, print-heavy pieces that feel nostalgic, yet avant-garde. Take, for example, an ethereal prairie dress unbuttoned to reveal a pair of prim jacquard shorts or a rock-inspired metallic gown with bohemian fringe at her most recent runway show— two looks that reflect the kind of daring, multi-dimensional woman we aspire to be. Now, over 30 years in business (she launched her line in 1981 after briefly styling for friend and Parsons classmate Steven Meisel), Sui continues to see the world just as colorfully, delivering a kaleidoscope of a collection we never want to stop looking through. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: The Grey Dog on University Place (MAP IT, x) is invariably where I meet my nephew on the weekends for breakfast.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee. I currently get my morning coffee at Café Kabila (MAP IT, x); it’s conveniently located downstairs from my office on 39th Street. Aziz and his staff are very friendly.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: The Pool (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is totally old school glamour. The restaurant’s interior is one of the most awesome and iconic modernist New York City spaces.

MUSIC PICK: I recently saw Temples at Irving Plaza (MAP IT, x) and Bryan Ferry at The Beacon (MAP IT, x).

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: Serendipity (MAP IT, x) is the ice cream parlor of my dreams! In fact, my own kitchen is an affectionate pastiche of Serendipity’s décor— bentwood Thonet chairs, stained glass butterflies, Tiffany lamps and giant Victorian clocks.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Water… for so many reasons. It’s important to stay hydrated.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream (MAP IT, x) has five vanillas: Madagascar vanilla, apple brandy, burnt honey, angel food and another one with peppermint!

FAVORITE CUISINE: My mom’s cooking and Tang Pavilion on 55th Street (MAP IT, x) comes closest to home-style authenticity. I staged my parent’s anniversary party there!

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel (MAP IT, x) features charming murals of Central Park by Ludwig Bemelmans (who created the Madeline children’s books). It’s a timeless New York watering-hole that has drawn socialites, moguls, movie stars and lovers for more than five decades. Also, I love the Veteran’s Room at The Seventh Regiment Armory (MAP IT, x). All of my favorite things co-exist here in one location: the Aesthetic Movement, Tiffany stained glass, Orientalism, peacock-hued iridescent tiles and Art Nouveau. The interior incorporates many different historical styles including Japanese, Medieval, Moorish and Celtic— these regimental rooms are among the most stunning spaces anywhere in New York City and one of the only surviving Arts-and-Crafts interiors left un-spoiled in the United States.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The conveniences of New York— the gourmet food delivery, the 24-hour drugstores… I love not having to drive or park a car.

REGULAR AT: ABC Kitchen (MAP ITBOOK IT, x), Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ode to seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients, is my current favorite restaurant. I love the roasted kabocha squash toast (with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar). I also always love Freeman’s (MAP IT, BOOK ITx)— it’s cozy and delicious.

DELIVERY GO-TO: Sammy’s Noodle Shop (MAP IT, x).

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Sant Ambroeus in SoHo (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is pretty happening right now. Also, Cherche Midi (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) and Il Buco Alimentari (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

TO BE ANONYMOUS: EN Japanese Brasserie (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) has an elegant private party room.

TO GET INSPIRED: New York has so many great museums. My favorites are The Met (MAP IT, x), The MoMA (MAP IT, x), Neue Galerie (MAP IT, x), The Museum at FIT (MAP IT, x), Cooper Hewitt (MAP IT, x), National Museum of the American Indian (MAP IT, x) and The Bard Institute (MAP IT, x) has excellent exhibits and programs.

CLOSET CHECK: Obviously I wear a lot of my own designs, but I also have many friends in fashion whose work I admire and wear like Marc Jacobs, Martine Sitbon and Zandra Rhodes. I’m also currently loving Miu Miu, Lanvin and YSL (both vintage and new).

ACCESSORIES PICK: Jewelry Just for You, Shirley Mariaschin’s booth, at the Antiques Showplace (MAP IT, x) is where I go to for vintage jewelry. I collect ethnic Berber necklaces, Arts-and-Crafts peacock-eye earrings and Egyptian-revival pieces from the 1920s. Besides vintage, Shirley features re-configured new pieces made from antique findings.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: John Derian (MAP IT, x) became famous for his decoupage objets (plates, trays, paperweights) which I always love. His shop is also full of quirky French and American antiques, vintage Pakistani quilts, 19th century glass light fixtures, Moroccan wedding blankets covered with silver spangles and Transylvanian linens. ABC Carpet & Home (MAP IT, x) is worth a visit for their famous window dressing alone. I’m also a big Marimekko (MAP IT) fan— I’ve always collected their things and I’m glad they keep their signature prints in stock. I use their dishes, napkins and tablecloths daily, and I love their dresses, change purses, cosmetic bags, address books and stuffed toys.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Aedes de Venustas (MAP IT, x) is like an Ali Baba’s cave, chock-full of all the most refined lines of perfumes and scented candles. My favorites are the Mariage Frères Himalayan rose candles and Agraria’s bitter orange incense. A wonderful hostess gift is one of the baskets from Manhattan Fruitier (MAP IT, x)- each looks exactly like a still life from an Old Master painting. Everyone also loves when I bring an ethereal Mille Crêpes cake from Lady M (MAP IT, x)!

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Garren (*Location now closed) has done the hair for all of my fashion shows and advertising shoots and he cuts my own hair as well. He is the absolute chicest hairdresser in New York!

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Saks Fifth Avenue once recreated my bedroom in one of their windows. They borrowed the whole thing— all my furniture, pillows, bedding, lace curtains and bric-à-brac. That was a very surreal experience! CP

Anna’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Zandra Rhodes for Valentino; Lady M Cakes; EN Japanese Brasserie; Freeman’s. Second Row: Inside The Pool; Neue Galerie; Frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity; Morgenstern’s ice cream.

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