Taiwan-born designer Jason Wu has always known he wanted to dress curvy women. When sorting through a box of early sketches meticulously archived by his mother recently, he realised his first ever drawing was of a mermaid and that amongst the thousands there was not one of a man. The most famous woman the 26-year-old designer has dressed is, of course, Michelle Obama.
Though he has never met the First Lady in person (he hasn't ruled out a Wednesday night cocktail invitation in the future though!), by wearing his dress to the Inauguration Ball her impact on his career has been profound. ‘It's great that Michelle champions young American designers and has got people interested in fashion,' Jason told us last night, recalling the moment he realised she'd chosen his dress – whilst watching the ceremony at home with his boyfriend. ‘The reaction has been incredible. I've gone from being a designer known just by those in the know in New York to a global name.' He has since been offered all sorts of tell-all book deals and even a reality TV show, but in typical modest fashion he wants to concentrate on his clothes. Still, it's no surprised he's got fond memories of that dress. He still has the initial sketch, has kept off-cuts of the dress and is planning to visit the Smithsonian Museum to see it displayed as a testament to American history in May. As for what he thinks of the fashion controversy that's greeted every outfit Michelle Obama has made since – not to mention, when it's sleeveless – Jason has strong opinions. ‘It's not like she had a skirt slit to the thigh,' he told us of ‘Sleevegate' as it's known in Washington. ‘And anyway she has great arms so show them off!'
And something tells us Michelle will be showing them off in new-season Jason Wu very soon. ‘I've never been trendy and I don't design trendy things,' he told us of his collection, which is stocked at Net-a-Porter. ‘I design for real women, older women with feminine bodies. And I want my pieces to be relevant in 30 years' time.' Aside from his clothing line (for which he still only employs eight people to help him produce), Jason is planning to launch make-up and shoe ranges this year. He was keeping tight-lipped about who he'd be collaborating on for these, but he hinted it wouldn't be Manolo Blahnik (who did the shoes for his A/W '09 collection) because he thinks it's important they are commercial ranges. As for who he'd like to dress in the future? He's got his eye on Slumdog Millionaire star turned fashion darling, Freida Pinto.
But that's for the future. Last night, Jason just wanted to enjoy London, a city he hasn't been to for over ten years, and concentrate on the food. He spends his downtime cooking to relax – apple pie and a mean mac and cheese with three types of cheeses are his specialities. It seems Jason Wu really is the all-American designer!
See more from Jason Wu's A/W '09 catwalk collection.