Spring/Summer 2024 marks a significant moment for Jason Wu as he makes a triumphant stride into a new era, embracing change while staying true to his roots. A long way from creating Michelle Obama’s inaugural ballgown in 2006, Wu showcased a collection at New York Fashion Week that reflected his evolution as a designer. The now-veteran designer shared his thoughts backstage before his latest show, revealing an arm adorned with tattoos of every collection print he has ever created. “Everyone is seeing me like I was 15 years ago, but I’ve evolved,” Wu stated, emphasizing his commitment to American clothes and beautiful craftsmanship, despite the uncertainty of the future.
Held at 28 Liberty Street, a venue with a landmark-status sunken Japanese garden designed by Isamu Noguchi, Wu’s choice of location symbolized the changing landscape of the fashion world. The garden, once private and only visible from the street level, will soon be accessible to diners in a redeveloped food hall. This transformation mirrors the changes in the fashion industry and Wu’s own journey as a designer. He compared the current state of the fashion scene to the post-pandemic, post-society world depicted in the HBO drama “The Last of Us,” noting the dwindling number of independent designers. “The entire world is becoming conglomerates. The only way to get through is to tell my story in a personal way. It’s about embracing beauty as it is now, not as what it was,” he shared.
Against this backdrop, Wu showcased a collection that balanced grit and glamour. He hand-shredded an ivory jacquard skirt, paired it with a sheer silver embroidered tank, and hand-destroyed a red sweater over a thready tweed miniskirt. The collection also featured striking black-and-white prints reminiscent of 19th-century etchings, Chinese landscapes, and a portrait of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese Hollywood movie star. The poison-green jacquard evening dresses invoked images of the fungus from “The Last of Us,” while transparent layers in darkly elegant bias-cut dresses or skirts over pants showed Wu’s feminine touch. The result was a seductive and subversive mood that resonated with the times.
Wu’s journey has been a process of embracing the changes while staying true to his passion for American clothes and craftsmanship. His Spring/Summer 2024 collection is a testament to his resilience and ability to adapt in a constantly shifting world. Despite the challenges faced by independent designers, Wu continues to tell his story in a personal and compelling way, demonstrating that beauty can be found in the midst of transformation. As Wu moves forward into this new era, he does so with a clear vision and a commitment to his craft, creating collections that speak to the present moment while honoring his past.
©Photo: Jason Wu