February 14, 2012 New York
Like Marc Jacobs' show the other night, Sui's presentation honed in on the fantasy of fashion. It's scarcely a new impulse with her, but what elevated the collection this time was an extraordinary precision and polish. The detail was off the map, as in a "librarian" dress with a print of books, trimmed in a lace in the same book pattern (made in New Jersey; Sui is, after all, New York fashion's locavore equivalent). Or a print that featured postcards with the addresses of all the Sui stores around the world. Or a smock whose bodice was dressed with laser-cut Plexi butterflies.
A handcrafted owl appliqué was the kind of folkloric touch Sui excels at—it was attached to a velvet varsity jacket over brown corduroy short shorts for a look that popped like Twiggy. But it was the spirit of Jean Shrimpton in her early sixties heyday that guided the glittery plaid shift topped by a matching coat and paired with kitten heels. And, of course, the mighty Liz, invoked in Lily Donaldson's gilded chiffon caftan with intense orange capris.
What could seem like fashion historicism in lesser hands was translated by Sui's sheer passion and eye for detail into something seductively of the here and now. To step from New York streets crowded with men and women in anonymously dun-colored coats and puffas into Sui's world of extravagant color, print, and texture was to be welcomed into a universe of possibilities. If only the universe would say yes to the invitations.