New Emissary

Jason Wu: Taiwan’s Pride

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New Emissary

Jason Wu: Taiwan’s Pride

How has this fast-rising young designer become a source of inspiration and pride for many Taiwanese?

Last week I touched on the current ‘trend’ of Asian-American fashion designers who are making it big in the international fashion industry, including Cambodian-American Phillip Lim, and looked into the particular challenges (such as whether or not to incorporate ‘Asian’ elements into their designs) they might face because of their ethnicity.

Today, I heard from a Taiwanese friend who told me that my post had reminded him how much continuing local media hype there is in Taiwan about Jason Wu. Wu has been in the spotlight for almost a year, since January 20, 2009, when US First Lady Michelle Obama wore a Wu- designed dress (made of ivory silk chiffon, embellished with organza and Swarovski crystal rhinestones) at her husband’s inaugural ball. My friend added that the ‘media here loves to emphasize that he's born in Taiwan.’

It’s hard to believe how quickly the 28-year-old designer’s star has risen in a year—already hundreds of articles have been published about Wu, who started out his fashion career as a teen in Europe designing a freelance high-end fashion doll line called Fashion Royalty. (Originally called Jason Wu Dolls)

And interestingly, like Lim, Wu—despite having left Taiwan with his family to move to Canada when he was a child—says his Asian background and upbringing contributed in part to his current success. According to the China Post, when Wu returned home in the autumn of last year, he met with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, who he reportedly told: ‘I think maybe I succeeded because I have a very Asian way of working…My dad works every day…We are very efficient and hardworking and I think that is a very Taiwanese quality.’ Meanwhile, Wu reportedly also told Ma of having grown up in a family that nurtured his unique interests and talent.

Jason Wu

The president must have been impressed, as he went on to write in his journal after the meeting: ‘Taiwan not only needs to nurture more Jason Wus, but also needs more mothers like Jason Wu's mum.’

According to the China Post, Ma addressed his country by asserting, ‘Taiwan's youth should look to their own uniqueness and advantages if they seek to stand out globally in the field of culture and creative innovation.’

It seems that Taiwan has found at least one new 'stylish' source of inspiration.


Images: Tom Bridge (top), David Shankbone (bottom).