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According to her own anecdote, she started with her dolls and her neighbor's toy soldiers for her own personal version of Academy Awards, before making and designing some realistic clothes imitating magazine photos. Anna Sui moved to New York city to attend Parsons School of Design, where she started to work with close friend Steven Meisel who is today's one of the world's top fashion photographers. Her early days as a stylist from Meisel's shoots include editorial for the Italian Fashion Magazine LEI.

Leaving Parsons, she worked for variety of junior sportswear companies.

It was in 1992 that she opened her first boutique shop at 113 Greene Street in Soho District, New York. This shop with purple walls and red floors has been reflecting her now famous taste of pairing flea market furniture and whimsical dolly head mannequins.

The first of three her freestanding boutiques in Asia opened on May, 1997 in Tokyo. The second opened in Osaka in the fall of that same year. Another Osaka venue opened in 2000. The stores mark the continued worldwide expansion of the Anna Sui brand and lifestyle. Isetan Company Limited has attained the main license for the japanese distribution of the women's collection and Mammina, a subsidiary of Isetan, is the distributor to department and specialty stores there.

In 1997, Anna Sui Shoes premiered on her runway for fall 1997. Manufactured by Ballin in Venice, Italy, the shoe collection is comprised of both day and evening styles, and include velvet, silk, patent leather, snake and lizard skin, shearling and suede. Anna Sui opened her Los Angeles boutique in 1999 in Sunset Plaza, in West Hollywood. In 1999, Sui launched her signature fragrance and cosmetic line. In October 1997, Anna Sui signed a fragrance licensing deal with Wella AG, Germany to develop a signature fragrance. In a three-sided arrangement, Wella shares the Anna Sui beauty business with Japanese cosmetics maker Albion, who holds the Anna Sui color cosmetics and skin care license. Under some agreement, Wella will produce and market Anna Sui fragrances while Albion introduces the Anna Sui color collection to Japan. Wella will sell the fragrances to Albion, which will distribute them inside Japan, while Albion will sell the color cosmetics to Wella for distribution outside Japan. For fall 2000, Sui Dreams, the second Anna Sui fragrance, launched worldwide.

Called a designer that "never panders" by The New York Times, Anna Sui continues to design and manufacture her signature Anna Sui Collection in her New York City headquarters. Her runway shows continue to set trends and inspire designers everywhere. Sui's signature wit and original designs draw legions of devotees to her pieces, including clients Patricia Arquette, Christina Ricci, Cher, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Coppola, Courtney Love of Hole and James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins.

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