Sue•Anu: Global Influence, Timeless Classics
Indian Couture with a Western Sensibility
When two raven haired beauties from opposite hemispheres meet in a small Southern town, the sky is the limit.
article by Maré Brennan
East meets West in the very best of ways when friends, busy moms and frequent collaborators Sue Sartor and Anu Lal put their minds together to create a fashion label that celebrates the very best silhouettes with the fabrications and embellishment of Indian couture clothing. The two have worked tirelessly on committees and boards to serve our communities, including the Grace Episcopal School PTF and the Twin City Art Foundation Board, which serves the Masur Museum. The friends most recently spearheaded the revitalization of Strauss Youth Theatre by creating SYAA (Strauss Youth Academy of the Arts, one of our community’s most precious resources for precocious children to nurture and discover their love of theatre arts.
Leave it to these energetic doers to discover their shared love of couture fashion. Sue of Sue•Anu was born on the East Coast, studied fine art at Tulane, lived in Europe and returned to work in New York City for famed designer, Calvin Klein at his zenith, dressing models for Fashion Week and visually merchandising stores ahead of the designer’s personal appearances.
Anu of Sue•Anu was born in Houston, spent her teenage years in Delhi, India, then returned to the US to pursue an engineering degree. For Anu,the art of couture clothing is the norm in India. For example, you will find only one person between you and the people who actually weave your garment’s fabrics, she explains. While designer brands have been more prevalent in the United States, branded couture in India has only come about in the late 1990s and 2000s. While Sue is the partner tasked with the creative side of the business, Anu has had a business relationship with the couturier in India for over 19 years; and her extensive knowledge of Indian fabrics and natural business acumen has been crucial to Sue•Anu’s early successes.
Explains Anu of her distinctive working partnership with Sue, “We work really well together, because we process information differently.”
“And it works well cause we naturally gravitate toward similar silhouettes and appreciate the art of couture clothing,” adds Sue.
For Sue•Anu, Anu is the direct link to the couturier who for over 20 years has designed the traditional Indian clothing for her and her family. “His goods were in the same stores and sold alongside the biggest couture brands in India. His work in India is known as exceptional,” says Anu of the couturier.
Says Sue of working with their Indian couturier, “We are able to send him our designs for handstamped fabrics and he is able to work with weavers and artisans to create the looks we want. I send loose sketches, and our fabricator sends the block printed fabric back to us for approval.”
The Sue•Anu design aesthetic is based on embroidery and luxurious fabrics and textures. While the fabrics and embroideries are traditional in the Indian sense, Sue•Anu has designed the clothing to be highly wearable with light silks, cottons and luscious brocades of quality in silhouettes that are flattering to the body. “We are focusing on wearability and timeless style,” says Sue. Easy pieces, like cotton kaftans or short ponchos in hand-stamped cottons or light silk, are great for throwing on with a pair of jeans, boots or heels with for a ballgame or night out. Silk tunics and elegant dresses in rich brocades are refined with customizable embroidery in various shades of metallics from a soft silver to a polished gold and offer thousands of options for modern dressing. Think Tori Burch, Vince and Emerson, but totally designed in the fabrication and the embellishments that will make each piece completely yours.
For Fall 2016, Sue•Anu will be offering brocades in different tone on tone metallic hues, which are right on trend. Beginning this season, the company will begin carrying stock pieces that will be ready to try on and sell.
The company’s first Pop Up Collective with other like minded artists and designers will take place in San Antonio on September 7 and 8, with others to follow in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston and Monroe. What a fun way to find globally inspired, locally designed pieces for your home and wardrobe!
One of the most popular styles, the “Lucy” dress, features a deep “V” front and back with a self banded waist. Sue has designed an adorable crop top with a scallop or V neck to be paired with a cute flounce skirt – a cute two-piece option for girls in the know. Those same girls will love the new shorter poncho styles, as well.
The “Uma” tunic, named for Anu’s close friend Dr. Uma Rangaraj, is a classic when fabricated with Chandori silk, which is a breathable 80% cotton and 20% silk, perfect for our Louisiana weather.
“Everything has to feel luxurious and look great,” says Sue. Fall’s new color ways for silks include Earl grey, Sky, Burnt Orange, Cardamon, Teal, Chai, Black and Brinjal, which is an eggplant hue. Other silks color available include Ivory, White, Blush, Mint, Fuschia and Taupe.
In addition to dresses, ponchos, kaftans, tunics and jacket toppers, Sue•Anu offers a line of hand stamped cotton pajamas, which will be available locally at Haven.
Of special note are exquisite, long statement necklaces hand crafted and beaded by Sue, using vintage African brass beads, agate, carnelian, malachite, amber, or jasper stones paired with carved Balinese teak and silk or suede tassels, which are attached to embroidered strips of silk.
The Sue•Anu logo and walking elephant design was created by award-winning graphic designer Kristin Brown. Hand-stamped fabric featuring the company’s walking elephant logo is featured on the placket of each piece of clothing.
To keep up with the latest styles and offerings from Sue•Anu as well as their schedule of pop-up boutiques in cities near you, be sure to follow them on Facebook.