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Anna Sui is practically synonymous with Bohemian fashion—she's been committed to the aesthetic over the decades whether the trend was in our out on other designers' runways. And it's that commitment to her vision, she says, that's partly responsible for her longevity and success as a designer.
The Bohemian lifestyle is also the inspiration for her latest fragrance, La Vie de Boheme, which Ms. Sui will introduce in person to San Franciscans at the Powell Street Sephora tomorrow, Saturday October 26 from 12 to 1pm. In advance of her appearance, Racked SF asked the designer all about the new fragrance, her favorite San Francisco shops (we have a new N. Beach haunt!), and her amazing success as a designer.
Tell us about your new fragrance! What was the inspiration, and what kind of woman do you think will be attracted to it?
"LVDB is all about the carefree, feminine, romantic bohemian spirit. There has always been a bohemian vibe in my collections, but I had never really incorporated that spirit into my fragrances. La Vie de Bohe?me arrived at the perfect moment. It truly represents who I am; from my design aesthetic, to how I approach life.
The Bohe?mian woman is a bit defiant, a bit romantic, a bit artistic. In essence, it's truly the modern woman. Yes, the signature look may be mixed patterns, flowing dresses, boots, floppy hats, but every generation brings its own attitude to it, a unique expression of personal style."
Wikipedia tells us you wanted to be a designer since you were 4 years old. How does it feel to have fulfilled that dream so successfully?
"Yes, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a fashion designer. My personal style developed at a young age as well. I started to make my own clothes when I was 4 years old. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to wear and how it should look. I feel like the luckiest person to be able to say that I am living my dream!"
Your aesthetic seems to suit San Francisco's laid back, multi-cultural, a little bit hippie vibe. Have you spent much time here? Would you consider opening a store here?
"While I don't get to the West Coast as often as I would like, I love visiting San Francisco. And now more so than ever, the city is really on the map internationally. Not just because it is such a technology hub, so to speak...the culture, art, food, music....there is so much to see and do!"
You seem to stick to your vision rather than adopting trends... would you say that's true? Do you think trends are important?
"I have always looked at fragrance as an accessory, like a handbag or piece of jewelry. However one that creates an invisible mood and enhances the essence of your outfit. Like fashion, in fragrances there are trends but, like fashion, fragrance for me is a personal statement. We chose fragrances that make us happy and bring a smile to our face. I believe people listen to trends and even experiment with them in varying ways but, in the end, with both fashion and fragrance, the wearer has to have a personal connection to the item or fragrance regardless of whether it is a trend."
I love the muted tones in your Spring 2014 line! What was the inspiration for those colors?
"I was initially inspired by a dazzling exhibition at the Tate Museum in London, 'Pre- Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-garde.' My favorite artists have always been: John
William Waterhouse, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederick Leighton and John Everett Millais. My color palette comes directly from their luminous iridescent canvases...teal, sage, lavender, lilac, robin's egg, mauve, eggplant, coral, persimmon...and especially shades of unbleached, tea-dipped linen."
How did you decide to get into beauty? Has it become as important as fashion for your business?
"In general, I focus on carrying out my own, unique vision and staying true to what I love and want to create. And fragrance and cosmetics have been a part of my life since I was a young girl, so it was a natural step for me. Plus, I really see fragrance and beauty as part of the total, overall look which is why so many of my fragrances and cosmetics are closely tied to my fashion collections."
What's the secret to the longevity of your brand?
"The Anna Sui brand really appeals to a global, modern, contemporary customer, women all around the world, of all ages. I wanted my brand to have my personal touch on all elements. And this personal connection extends all the way to the final products. Whether someone buys a tube of lipstick, a fragrance or a dress, it is about conveying an experience through the product and ultimately that experience stems from an element, in one shape or form, in my own life. I think this is part of what makes Anna Sui unique!"
Lastly... any favorite shopping spots in SF?
"I love Bell'occhio on Brady Street. I try to stop there every time I'm in San Francisco. It's full of antique ribbons, vintage sewing notions, French linens, old world stationary and papier-ma?che? boxes in the shape of sea shells."
· Anna Sui [Official Site]
· Bell'occhio [Official Site]
· A Flower Crown DIY for the Boho Bride on a Budget [Racked SF]