How Jason Wu-ed FLOTUS
‘It used to be that women in “men’s worlds”, especially in a political environment, were afraid to express their femininity in case they risked not being taken seriously, or not looking professional,’ says Jason Wu, the American-Taiwanese designer who Michelle Obama has on speed dial for everything from supporting her husband at momentous political appearances (including both presidential inaugurations), to swaying at Beyoncé gigs.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Wu admitted he was ‘scared out of my wits’ when he was first commissioned to design a gown for Barack Obama’s historic inauguration ceremony in January 2009, aged just 26. ‘But I just went with my gut, and that’s how I’ve been in my entire career.’
In her eight years as the First Lady, Michelle Obama has campaigned for equal pay, fought childhood obesity, delivered many powerful public speeches and revealed her down-to-earth side with appearances on shows like James Codren’s Carpool Karaoke (she killed it and knew all the words to Single Ladies); dressing her is a pretty intimidating prospect. And while she’s renowned for wearing everything from H&M (she infamously donned a simple striped shift dress during the 2008 campaign trail), to Roksanda Ilincic, Wu has always been her golden boy.
‘She has been very strategic by sampling lots of different American designers and up-and-coming designers,’ Valerie Steele, the director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology told the New York Times. ‘To make a pointed choice to choose Jason Wu both times doesn’t sound to me like a political decision. It sounds like an emotional decision.’
We can all relate to emotional ties to a certain designer or brand (yes, you can count Zara), for life events where you want to look and feel your absolute best and Wu’s indulgently feminine, frothy frocks are perfect for Mrs. O’s unapologetically fun sense of fashion. ‘What Michelle’s brought to the political field is that you can wear something that’s feminine, a little bit sexy, but not compromise your power or your intelligence,’ says Wu, reminding us all why Michelle Obama is an icon in every sense of the word.