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Obama Inauguration 2009 Fashion: Designer Profile Jason Wu

January 22, 2009
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arriving at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball 2009

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arriving at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball 2009

We will remember this January 20, 2009 as one of the most important days in history as the United States of America inaugurated new President Barack Obama.

It was an unforgettable day and a career-making one for Jason Wu, who designed the new First Lady Michelle Obama’s dress. Certainly no one in fashion will forget who he is and those of us visiting the Smithsonian Institute will be reminded of him as his white dress hangs next to all the preceding First Lady’s dresses.  

The custom began in 1914 as the first donation of an inaugural gown was offered by First Lady Helen Taft, wife of President William Howard Taft. Mrs. Laura Bush was the last First Lady to donate in 2001 with the crystal-beaded red Chantilly lace and silk satin inaugural gown made by Dallas designer Michael Faircloth. Actually, Mrs. Bush also threw in the coat, shoes and bag. The collection of First Lady gowns at the Smithsonian Institute is called “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” and you can see all the inaugural gowns as well as other donated garments worn by First Ladies in the last century.

The first donated inaugural gown (left) worn by former First Lady Helen Taft; Laura Bush wearing the last inaugural gown donated in 2001

The first donated inaugural gown (left) worn by former First Lady Helen Taft in 1909 and donated in 1914; Laura Bush (right)wearing the last inaugural gown donated in 2001

And so continues the success story of emerging designer Jason Wu. Whether or not you like the gown worn by Michelle Obama you should consider designer Jason Wu capable of much more than what we saw at the Inaugural Ball.

Jason Wu designed First Lady Michelle Obama's gown

Jason Wu designed First Lady Michelle Obama's gown

Although Jason Wu is only 26 years old, this Parsons School of Design graduate has traveled the world: born in Taipei, he learned to sew while growing up in Vancouver, Canada, studied sculpture in Tokyo, and completed his senior year in high school in Paris. As a young designer, Wu interned with Narciso Rodriguez and has already been award-winning and named an emerging designer to watch.

Wouldn’t this classic belted flowy dress from Wu’s spring 08 collection been a lovely choice on Mrs. Obama?

Jason Wu spring 08

Jason Wu spring 08

Jason Wu’s Spring 09 collection will capture the heart of any fashionista. It’s easy to see why Michelle Obama likes this designer: Wu embraces bold jewel tones, he clearly knows how to drape fabric, and his shapes are classically feminine. I also get a whiff of 1960s inspiration in some of his work, making his work playfully modern and wearable.

Jason Wu spring 09 collection

Jason Wu spring 09 collection

Jason Wu spring 09 collection

Jason Wu spring 09 collection

Jason Wu spring 09 collection

Jason Wu spring 09 collection

I wouldn’t be surprised (or disappointed) if the First Lady were to strut some of these lovely creations this spring. I am delighted that she has introduced the world to a young designer whose work leaves us excitedly anticipating his next collection.

Jason Wu pre-spring 09 collection

Jason Wu pre-spring 09 collection

Jason Wu fall 08 collection

Jason Wu fall 08 collection

Jason Wu spring 08 collection

Jason Wu spring 08 collection

Tomorrow I will writing a designer profile about fashion designer Isabel Toledo, whose yellow lace dress the First Lady wore to the Inaugural Ceremony on January 20, 2009.

Michelle Obama wears Isabel Toledo

Michelle Obama wears Isabel Toledo

To view more from Jason Wu’s collections, please visit his website by clicking here.

Images for today’s post courtesy of Jason Wu, Newsday.com, and The Washington Post.

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