Anna Sui, Designer.

Consider this: Fashion designer Anna Sui’s first runway show was over twenty years ago. (Twenty-two years ago, to be exact.) She counts industry superstars Steven Meisel, Naomi Campbell and Francois Nars as some of her oldest friends, and she alone is the reason the babydoll dress is one of fashion’s most enduring silhouettes. If all of this suggests Sui’s status as an icon, the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award she took home in 2009 makes it official. This is not to say, however, that the beloved designer has any intention of slowing down, and why would she? Editors and celebrities still flock to every fashion show. Her designs—a kicky mix of sweet and girly meets rock-and-roll—are as beloved as ever, and sold in 200-plus stores across the globe. She’s launched a wildly successful fragrance and cosmetic line, and was the subject of a beautiful 2010 book chronicling her impressive career. If anything, Sui is just getting started. Here, she shares the hard-working habits that got her to where she is today.

What’s the one habit you have that changed your life for the better?
Getting to work early. My father always told me that if I want to have my own company, I should be in the office every day before the rest of my staff and stay later than anyone else. This philosophy of hard work and dedication has always inspired me. Arriving early allows me to get a lot done before the office gets crazy and I get distracted doing other things. I like having that quiet early morning time to prepare myself for the rest of the day.

What’s the one habit you have that’s not so great?
Going overboard with my habit of working too late! I have to remind myself that it’s necessary to just stop what I’m doing, and say to myself, “I can resume this tomorrow, and it will be ok.”

What’s your naughtiest habit?
The divine, light-as-air Mille Crêpes Cake from Lady M Confections on 78th Street.

What’s your secret (or not-so-secret) style habit?
I’m a major shopaholic. I own, for instance, over a hundred pairs of sunglasses. My absolute current favorite is from my own collection—a hip, vintage-inspired cat-eye shape.

What’s a habit you wish you had?

What style habit should every woman adopt?
Learning that style is not about age—it’s about spirit and attitude. My mother wears my designs, and so do my nieces. Style is about having fun, making an effort, opting for a little glamour, and not taking yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

What style habits should every woman break?
Being a fashion victim! In my show, I pile on the accessories, and do matching hose and gloves and bags, but that’s just for the theatricality of the presentation. I don’t expect women to walk down the street in a head-to-toe runway look, and whenever I see that, I find it scary.
Overthinking your purchases. I often wait to buy something I like thinking I’ll come back, but then can’t find it again and end up kicking myself over the missed opportunity.

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(Photo courtesy of Anna Sui.)


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