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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



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Jason Wu's Floral Fantasia

Renata Espinosa
September 11th, 2010 @ 00:21 AM - New York

Jason Wu let loose with the frilly, feminine touches he’s known for in a collection that celebrated all things floral in his spring 2011 collection, shown in an airy downtown New York loft on Friday, Sept. 10.

In his program notes, Wu cited Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes, a contemporary painter with a modernist bent known for her abstract geometric canvases and French fashion illustrator Rene Gruau, who, like Milhazes, emphasizes “bold color” and “movement in fashion.”

These two key ideas for Wu manifested themselves as draped “Beatriz” print chiffon skirts and tops in bright pinks and violets, cascades of ruffles that rustled like leaves with volume that recalled an over-fertilized carnation and sprays of individually hand-painted petals.

Wu’s ever-growing fan base, which includes first lady Michelle Obama (in the audience was Desiree Rogers, Obama's former social secretary and now CEO of Johnson Publishing, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines), will appreciate the floral fantasia and accompanying couture-like details.

However, as in season’s past, the piling on of volume around the hips has the potential for some unfortunate Violet Beauregarde moments, aka the puffed up blueberry-of-a-girl in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Then again, these are ensembles that not only announce themselves, but send out a calling card three feet before they enter the room and thus, the woman that gravitates toward them will probably already have strong disposition that enjoys taking up as much space as possible.

This kind of assertiveness and a sense of a powerful presence is not entirely dissimilar from Wu’s current mood. The designer boasted that as of Friday, he would be distributed in 160 stores worldwide, and he was launching shoes and handbags for the first time in 30 exclusive stores, which he presented on the runway as well.

“I wanted to portray a confident, sexy woman,” he said backstage after the show. “It’s an inner confidence that I feel myself. I’m pushing myself to the next level.”

Luckily for new fans that Wu might be courting, that "next level" also included an alternative silhouette to the ultra-feminine frocks. “Lean and mean” was how Wu described the sleek, ‘70s-inspired daywear of long, wide-legged pleat front trousers and a new jacket proportion, a long mannish blazer that hit mid-thigh.

And if that’s still not enough to coax a larger audience into submission, Wu’s ladylike shoes and bags might do the trick. Calling them “new classics,” they’re Wu’s take on structured vintage bags, but reinvented with polished nickel that straddles the line between soft and hard. He’s even invented an adorable new mascot, “Miss Wu” (also the name of a bag), an owl charm that hangs from bags and belts.

“It brings a little whimsy in it,” said Wu, “because fashion can be so serious sometimes, and we have to remember to have fun.”

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