Fresh from his recent wedding and launch of his diffusion line, Grey, just last week, Jason Wu is well-versed in fitting a lot into a tight schedule. As Creative Director at his own label, as well as the Artistic Director of German brand Boss, the 33-year-old was described as a "fashion powerhouse" and "role model" by Suzy Menkes at the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference today, who wasted no time in tapping the Taiwan-born, New York-based designer about his work at his adopted brand.
"I've been there for three years now and I feel like I'm able to be freer and can move my girl forward," he told Suzy about his role at the fashion house now. "At the beginning it was important that there was a tie to the original menswear. Now, five seasons in, it's important to evolve. I felt more comfortable, so for this season straight lines became curvy lines and we took the canvassing out of the tailoring and it suddenly felt more feminine."
Femininity is something that the designer is well versed in. For his Jason Wu label, he has dressed some of the most glamorous women in the world — the most famous being First Lady Michelle Obama. Dressing Obama was, he revealed, a dream come true.
"That was a special moment for me, because you don't set out to do that — I set out to be in fashion magazines and all of a sudden there was this hugely historical moment," he said. "I got the request that we needed to do the fitting next week, so I just did one proposal without thinking it was for the First Lady! It was a white one-shoulder gown. When I saw it on TV, I don't know how to describe [that feeling]. It wasn't just dressing someone; it was being a part of history. It was a part of my American dream. My parents moved to America to allow me to be a fashion designer, so that moment was so special."
He credits Obama not only with making his dream come true, but also with setting the sartorial agenda for a new generation of professional women. "Not so long ago women were converging on the workplace, but now women are wearing dresses in Washington and not ill-fitting blazers.
The idea of working in politics and dealing with important issues isn't tied down to what you wear in the workplace and Mrs Obama had a lot to do with that," he said. "What she has to say is very intelligent. She's a strong woman, and she looks great doing it. That's been an important movement." As the go-to designer when his celebrity friends want to glam up, the designer also revealed his philosophical approach to the fashion fanfare. "In some ways we all play dress up," he said. "We have an idea of ourselves and we dress up and that's how the world perceives us, because we judge everything by what we see first. Fashion isn't frivolity - it allows you to be whoever you want to be."
By Scarlett Conlon, reporting live from the second CNI Luxury Conference in Seoul