Jason Wu brought his fall ready-to-wear collection to Saks Fifth Avenue in D.C. last week. Following the exclusive runway show, we sat down with the 30-year-old designer, who was dressed in black with black patent-leather sneakers and a fitted jacket with slight satin sheen. He told us immediately, “I love to dress up.”
It’s a great international city. A great market for me. There’s an increased emphasis here on feminine style, and it suits the clothes that I make. One thing that’s universal is women want to look beautiful and that’s my mission – make them look beautiful.
Do you have any thoughts on having been characterized as one of the only designers of an inaugural gown to have used it to further a successful career? What did you do specifically to capitalize on that media barrage?
Of course, my dress being chosen for the first inaugural was a huge boost to my career, but you have to remember I already had a business for three years, had fashion industry support and was sold at all the major retailer, including Saks Fifth Avenue. What it did for me was to increase my presence worldwide, helped propel the brand to the next level. From first inaugural to now, there has been a lot of growth. I started when I was 23, now I’m 30. Shoes and bags have become a very important part of my business; I’m doing a makeup collection with Lancome. For a young business, it is important to be more accessible to bigger audience. My clothing prices could be prohibitive. Accessories increases reach. If you can’t afford clothes, you can still buy into my vision.
You’ve done a collaboration with Target and now the Miss Wu line. Do you think designers have to hit a variety of price points to be successful now?
Last February, I did a short three-week collaboration with Target. Everything was priced under $80 for a much younger audience — high-school girls. Clothes were girlier and relaxed. Miss Wu, my secondary collection, priced from $150-$1,000, was designed with my friends in mind who are young career girls who are over throwaway clothing and want to build wardrobe for long term.
What do you think about Alexander Wang’s move to Balenciaga? Do you dream of being tapped by a house of that level?
It’s great for American designers to be recognized internationally. There’s a group of us of the same generation doing the same thing. I’ve been concentrating on my own collection right now, but not ruling out anything. But it has to be the right match. It has to be something creatively challenging. So, maybe.
When designing a dress for Michelle Obama what attributes do you keep in mind (arms, height, features she likes to show off/hide)? How can women translate that into picking out clothes for themselves?
It’s important to design for the woman you have in mind. When the woman feels confident in what she’s wearing, has the makeup, the jewelry, it’s magic. She’s an ideal candidate to dress, she’s stunning and takes ownership of the clothes. She does wear clothes that you can buy. She represents a range from J. Crew to designer clothing. Women can learn from the way she wears it, the way she pairs it. She wore that Thom Browne coat three ways for the inaugural.