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Last night Boston's fashion-obsessed flocked to the Institute of Contemporary Art for a conversation between industry-leading designer Jason Wu and Chief Curator Helen Molesworth. The understandably sold out discussion is no doubt a reflection of Wu's star status following Michelle Obama's second decision to sport one of his gowns at January's Inaugural Ball.
The audience was enamored by Wu's quips and willingness to express sentiments about his parents' support in raising him creatively, what it's like being grouped with fellow young designers Derek Lam and Alexander Wang, and how he pursued fashion as art before fashion as a business. Here are ten things we learned about the lauded designer that exposed the man behind the mannequin.
1. Wu's parents said he could go to any college he wanted so long as he went to boarding school. He picked Parsons.
2. His English tutor gave him Vogue magazines to read in lieu of text books. Wu jokes that because of this, he knew who Christian Lacroix was before he learned his geography.
3. A collector of Moleskine notebooks, Wu says "Drawing is my language."
4. Three walls in his studio are boards to collage inspiration, sketches, ideas, and more.
5. Wu claims he always gravitated to the "glamazon"—which explains his RuPaul obsession and subsequent doll-making. It started in the early 90s with the first MAC Viva Glam campaign, which starred the notorious drag queen. Wu says he didn't even realize she wasn't a woman, and credits his childhood in Taiwan and move to Vancouver for that oversight.
6. When asked about Michelle Obama and her style, Wu believes she is changing the way women are perceived in the workplace.
7. Curator Helen Molesworth jokes that she could pick up a girl while wearing a Wu dress; Wu confirms that he thinks his clothing would be a turn on.
8. In discussing his own aesthetic, Wu declares that "It's not so avant garde or androgynous." He also notes that it has always been feminine, which is sweetly inspired by his mother.
9. Wu mentioned that Debi Greenberg, the woman behind Louis, is a career launcher. He said 2008 was the first year he started to be stocked in stores like the upscale waterfront retailer, which catapulted him into the Michelle Obama-level space.
10. The designer recounted the first time he saw a woman wearing his clothing on the street. He thought "That's Look 9!" and told her she was beautiful, only to be brushed off with a quick "Thanks." Wu laughed saying, "That's a Jason woman; she doesn't want to talk to you."
· Jason Wu [Official Site]