Jason Wu Talks Dressing Mobama, His Go-To Karaoke Songs, & More

JasonWUIt isn't all that often that a design superstar strolls into town. But, when style influencers pay San Francisco a visit, they really roll through. And, twice in one week — first the Vena Cava girls, and then Jason Wu — that’s fashion gold right there. Naturally, we were able to snag some time with Wu (pinch us!), who was in town for the Neiman Marcus and San Francisco Opera Guild fashion show — presenting his fall ’13 collection. We shot the breeze with the man of the hour at the Rotunda post-event, and he touched upon everything from wanting to score a pair of Google Glass and his all-time favorite karaoke song to, of course, Michelle Obama. Read on to discover some interesting tidbits we bet you never knew about the designing sensation.
For your spring '13 collection you said you wanted to infuse more elements of sexiness to the Jason Wu woman and you also booked Stephanie Seymour for your recent campaign — what characteristics do you feel embody your "woman"?
"I think she’s confident, sophisticated, feminine, and sexy. And, I think that we try to put that forward in my designs. Last night, women came decked out in Jason Wu, and it felt really special because I saw clothes from three, four years ago that women are still wearing. The clothes really do stand the test of time. It was really great."
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We heard you recently learned how to make raspberry macaroons from the pastry whiz Francois Payard. So, what's more difficult — perfecting the tricky French cookie or designing the perfect gown?
"I think both. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that are the most difficult. So, when you deal with a very simple gown, for example, every seam and every line has to be perfect. It’s the same thing with the macaroons. Really, it’s just meringue with a little filling, but the balance and the shape have to be done perfectly. So, there’s a lot in common with those two."
Do you consider yourself a foodie?
"I don’t know if I’d call myself a foodie. I’m not a food snob. I love food, and I definitely try a lot of things. I don’t really follow reviews."
What restaurants in San Francisco are you most excited to try?
"I love Mission Chinese Food, The Slanted Door, Yang Sing — it’s my favorite dim sum place in the world. I went to Cotogna last night, and that was really delicious. I also love the chicken at Café Zuni. I discovered Blue Bottle Coffee here, and now they have it in New York."
So, you're here for the Opera Guild, but what are your vocal capabilities like?
"Terrible! I’m limited to the shower and to karaoke."
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
"We always do the Prince of Egypt song by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey ["When You Believe"]. I love it, it’s hilarious."
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Changing gears a bit, if Michelle Obama hadn’t worn your gowns, where do you think your career would be today?
"I think I would be very much on the same route. Having Mrs. Obama’s support meant having exposure that a young designer could never have dreamed of. It's allowed me to do a lot of great things. For example, the collaboration with Target, launching my secondary collection, and also my upcoming collaboration with Lancôme, which is really exciting for me to branch out into other fields. They all come out great because there is recognition of the name that’s wider than just a fashion company. The most significant event that would not have happened, nor would I have ever expected, was to be a part of history. And that’s something that I don’t think any designer sees himself doing. It’s something that I am very proud of. I still can’t really believe that happened."
You mentioned that you wanted to shift into a lifestyle brand, what can we expect from that?
"I think beauty is my biggest concentration right now. A few years ago I did a nail collaboration with CND, and then I did a candle, which is sold here at Nest. My shift into beauty has been very deliberate because that’s where my passion lies. I love the idea of a total look. In my runway shows, it has all been very apparent that the hair and makeup are integrated and a part of the design process with the clothes."
San Francisco is definitely a techie city. Do you feel that any of your designs infuse tech and fashion?
"I think there’s a lot of innovation with the fabrics. For spring, the dressy coats and overcoats [are made of] what seems like satin. But, in fact, it's weather-proof and engineered in a way that takes technology to inject all those fibers in there. It’s what I call dressed-up tech fabrics, which feels really modern."
What do you think of the Google Glass? Would you wear them?
"I've never used them before, but I find them fascinating. I want to try them! I’ve never seen them in person, but I’m dying to. I heard they're really cool."
Photo: Courtesy of Jason Wu
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