“I first noticed papier-mâché dolly heads like this while watching the ‘60s-era British TV series, THE AVENGERS, as a kid.

I found this one years later at a New York City flea market, right before I opened my first store on Greene Street in 1992. The back of its head was cracked open, so I could see how it was constructed, and I thought, ‘I could make this.’

So, I and friends of mine like [stylists] Paul Cavaco, Bill Mullen, and [illustrator] Tim Sheaffer started to make our own, which I used to decorate my store. And, over time, papier-mâché dolly heads kind of became symbolic of Anna Sui.”

“My favorite papier-mâché artist is GEMMA TACCOGNA. She made everything: dolly heads, jewelry, compacts, desk accessories, and more. I love how she drew; you can recognize a lot of her stuff by the eyes.”

“At one point, I would go to the flea market on 6th Avenue in New York City every weekend to look for Taccogna pieces. I have so many now, I can’t even count them.”

“TACCOGNA works weren’t expensive when I first started collecting them, but recently I’ve seen some for as much as $500 on eBay.

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan have accused me of driving up the prices.”

“Carolyn Murphy gave me my first lipstick tube. She saw it at a flea market and said it reminded her of me.”

“My handmade [TACCOGNA-inspired] papier-mâché dolly heads evolved into a series of full mannequins that I created with RALPH PUCCI. We did them in blue, yellow, lavender, and ivory ‘skin,’ and MICHELE HICKS, my favorite model for a long time, was the body model. I still use them in my stores.”


Photography byBramble Trionfo

As told toAnthony Rotunno

Anna Sui is a designer based in New York City.

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