The star designer launches an accessible, 1960s-inspired collection at Nordstrom
Jason Wu had a little help from his friends when developing his new line, Miss Wu — that is, he used them as inspiration. “Subconsciously, I think I designed this line for everyone I know,” says Wu. “Women in their 20s and 30s who aren’t able to afford designer price points yet, but who are ready to invest in wardrobe staples and statement pieces.”
The 40-piece contemporary collection, launched on Jan. 7 and sold exclusively at Nordstrom, takes a definitively retro point of view, evoking the 1960s with patterned skirts, mod dresses, luxe leather and striped cashmere sweaters. It’s more whimsical and less expensive than Wu’s eponymous line, but may still stretch budgets — prices range from $195 for a pleated skirt to $865 for a leather shift dress.
Crafting clothes with specific women in mind has worked out well for Wu in the past. The 30-year-old Taiwanese designer — who honed his sartorial prowess as a precocious teen by designing doll clothing for Integrity Toys and reading American magazines in order to learn English — became a household name at the age of 26, after Michelle Obama wore the glittering, one-shouldered white gown he’d designed for her to the 2009 inaugural ball. She’s continued to support his brand since, even sporting a Miss Wu dress at a campaign event (the Modern Weave shift dress, above, $425 at Nordstrom) in Cincinnati last October, before the line had launched.
Wu owes Obama’s loyalty in part to Ikram Goldman, owner of Chicago boutique Ikram. Goldman once served as the first lady’s unofficial stylist and was the first to introduce her to Wu’s designs. Thanks to his relationships with two of the city’s most fashionable women, Wu says “Chicago feels a little bit like home.”
Wu doesn’t solely draw inspiration from his inner circle. When designing Miss Wu, he was equally as inspired by the “Mad Men” style of 1960s New York and by French new wave films. “There’s always something between the male and female lead in those films,” he says. The homage is most apparent in Wu’s two-minute promotional video for the line, in which model Meghan Collison vies for her boyfriend’s attention by sporting various Miss Wu pieces and dancing around their shared apartment.
While Wu’s contemporary muses include actresses like Jessica Paré of “Mad Men,” Taissa Farmiga of “American Horror Story” and AnnaSophia Robb of “The Carrie Diaries,” it’s important to him that Miss Wu isn’t just worn by the rich and famous. “I want younger girls who couldn’t previously purchase my designs to be able to wear them,” he says. “As a designer, my job is to make the world a chicer place.”
Story by Rachel Handler