Designer Jason Wu: From the White House to Seattle

Jason Wu is already a fashion icon at only 27 years old. Wu designed the ethereal, silk and chiffon gown worn by First Lady Michelle Obama to the 2009 inaugural balls. His couture creation catapulted him to the fashion forefront and his history-making gown was inducted into the Smithsonian Museum of American History last month.  Wu recently visited the downtown Nordstrom store to showcase his spring and fall collections which include shimmering sheath dresses designed with 24-karat gold overlays. Glamour and success, however, have not gone to Wu's head. He graciously greeted fans and offered insight regarding why everyone from first ladies to first-graders deserve to have fashion be a part of their daily lives.

For those on the fashion fast track, Jason Wu's collection is available at the downtown Nordstrom store and will be offered at nordstrom.com by the end of June.

What did it mean to you to have your gown inducted into the Smithsonian Museum?
The ceremony was actually the first time that I met Michelle Obama. She’s someone to admire not just sartorially, but because she herself has inspired so many. It’s an honor to be a part of that and it pushes me to keep working and becoming better.

How would you describe your current spring and upcoming fall collections?
The fall collection was inspired by photographer Irving Penn. It was a great starting point because I love to play with prints. In general, though, I don’t make trendy clothes. I strive to make feminine, classic clothes that are wearable. I love women and I love to create clothes that enhance a woman’s own beauty. 

What’s a simple way to dress up a casual wardrobe?
I like to make luxe versions of everyday clothes. For example, the fall collection has my version of a parka. I used suiting fabric for a classier, more formal version of a casual coat. It works well to take one piece of a casual outfit and dress it up.

You lived in Vancouver, B.C., during your adolescence and are familiar with our temperamental, Northwest weather. What's the best way to dress for our climate?
I believe that women should build a wardrobe, but it doesn't necessarily have to be seasonal. A lightweight, cashmere cardigan can be great throughout the year. Invest in clothing that's relevant year-round and possesses the quality to last for 20 years.

In the midst of everyone’s busy lives, why do you feel that it’s important to make time for fashion?
It’s an opportunity to be creative at least once every day. Everything in life is so fast and we’re all working so hard. Getting dressed in the morning is a way that you can start your day well. The way you dress is a means of self-expression and fashion should be fun!

You’ve achieved remarkable success at a relatively young age. What advice do you give other young people wanting to pursue their dreams?
It’s a lot of hard work! Especially in fashion, there is the misconception that it’s all about glamour, but 90% of my time is spent working in my studio. I work day and night finding inspiration and refining my craft. I would say for any pursuit, the key is to keep focused on the work.

What are some places you want to visit in Seattle?
I visited Seattle about 13 years ago, so I’m ready to see it with a fresh set of eyes. I’m dying to visit the Pike Place Market because I’m a food and veggie aficionado. The donut place at Pike Place was also recommended, so that’s on my list, too!

Categories: