jason wu, a story
I 'scribbled' notes furiously on my phone during Jason Wu's interview last week at the ICA in Boston and here's where I attempt to make sense of it all. He graciously described his ideal client, his background and his inspiration.
Jason Wu was born in Thailand, moved to Vancouver when he was 9 and his tutor taught him English using issues of Vogue magazine. More than once he mentioned his parents who realized he always gravitated towards pretty things when he was younger and were always encouraging. In comparison to his super smart brothers, he was never a great student but he admits "it's really good to be me right now." According to Jason Wu, the woman who wears Jason is sophisticated, glamourous, never minimalistic and super feminine. He even suggested that she's probably bitchy and too good to talk to the likes of you.
As for his creative influences, he cited Charles James, Christian Dior, Azzedine Alaia and Yves Saint Laurent - impeccable construction with intricate details in gravity defying gowns. But he also said you need to look outside your industry to get perspective and stay relevant. You have to react to what's going on in the world. Having a point of view will give meaning to your work. "I love a dress that is impractical that you can't wear anywhere but I also love seeing real women wear my clothes. If you don't have fantasy then you can't have fashion." He loves to introduce a piece of that fantasy into his real world designs.
Moderator Helen Molesworth, chief curator of the ICA in Boston, was curious about the whole experience dressing Michelle Obama for the first inauguration. She described how most of us feel pretty accurately - how Michelle seems to lead a super human life but at the same time is very human. Jason laughed and explained that Michelle "actualized my inspirational woman and my sense of style. She looks great while balancing her family and job and it's super cool that she's wearing me." He also shared solid advice, no matter your field or interest - "So many times we are held back or limited by ourselves. "Oh that's not possible," and I think anything is possible and I'm perhaps an example of that because I never thought dressing the First Lady was possible... take every opportunity you can, immerse yourself into the industry any way you know how."
My biggest take away from the night was Jason's advice to have a point of view - it gives meaning to your work. That and being a designer requires you to do so much more than make beautiful things. You are your label or brand and you have to bring attention to it. Old school designers didn't allow 'behind the scenes' but today's social media allows a glimpse into the designer's world and sharing can bring meaning to your work.
PS - If you get a chance to attend a guest lecture moderated by Helen, take it. I would've listened to Jason regardless of who he was sitting next to but she made it that much better. When Jason said that men would hit on her if she was wearing a Wu dress. She corrected him and said "I don't pick up guys but I would pick up a woman in a Wu dress."