Jason Wu’s Softer Side

The designer showed off a feminine yet easy collection at New York Fashion Week on Friday—including some stunning evening dresses that would be perfect on the First Lady. Isabel Wilkinson reports.

Jason Wu’s show always marks the big kick-off of the season at New York Fashion Week – and Friday’s show was no exception.

Held in a cavernous space in SoHo, Wu’s Spring/Summer 2014 show was all about -- as the designer put it -- “a dialogue between construction and ease." That meant liquid embroidered metallics, satin lace-up skirts – and even a tweed bikini. As Wu told The Daily Beast backstage: “Who doesn’t want a tweed swimsuit?” (We can think of a few people).

But nevermind: hemlines were long, and there was a constant interplay between sheer elements and more masculine accents, such as cargo pockets.

Wu said the collection was about “embracing the softer side of femininity,” with more generous shapes – many of which were offset with corsets which lent silhouettes a sexier edge.

Emily Mortimer, star of The Newsroom, sat front-row, and afterwards gushed about how much she loved the collection. “I wore one of his dresses to a premiere of a movie I did in Japan – and I sat next to the Empress of Japan, and she loved my dress,” she said of Wu’s designs.

Mortimer said that this season’s Wu collection would be a great fit for her character on the show, MacKenzie McHale, who wears professional-yet-vaguely-sexy things to her job on the set of ACN News. “I think they’re very McKenzie,” she said of Wu’s clothes. “They’ve got that uptown-chic thing with a slight dirty, S&M-type thing bubbling under the surface.”

Mad Men’s Jessica Paré (Megan Draper), who also sat front-row, said that Wu’s collection embodied “a great portrait of a woman.” “I love the juxtaposition between sexy, corset-details and these incredibly beautiful fabrics,” she said. When pressed about the direction of the show’s upcoming (and final) season, Pare demurred: “I don’t think anybody knows," she said, laughing. “But if I did, I wouldn’t spoil it for you.”

As the final, glittering evening dresses came down the runway – the show-stopper being a pale, embroidered tank gown on Karlie Kloss – it was hard not to think of them on Michelle Obama, one of Jason Wu’s biggest fans. These, coming down the runway, were dresses that would be perfect for State Dinners and entertaining at the White House.

“Just about anything would be great for the First Lady,” Wu said of this collection. “You have an ideal woman to dress there, who embodies what a confident, beautiful, strong woman is. Who wouldn’t want to dress that?”