Jason Tseng

First Lady makes Gay Asian Designer Break Out Star of Inaugural Fashion

Filed By Jason Tseng | January 22, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Asian, inaugural ball, inauguration, Jason Wu, Michelle Obama

Almost matching in anticipation to the contents of Barack Obama's inaugural address, fass_weber_29_v.jpgspeculations on Michelle Obama's choice of inaugural gown reached a near fever pitch in the entertainment and fashion worlds as the clock counted down to the beginning of a new era in American leadership.

While I acknowledge that the inauguration is in large part a pageantry of national identity, I have to point out the implicit sexism in the importance of the First Lady's fashion choices over her... I don't know, policy positions. But with that aside, I was very pleased that Mrs. Obama used this oft trivial decision to pass over fashion big wigs like Diane von Furstenberg or Michael Kors, and highlight a young, immigrant, Asian, start-up, and gay designer in Jason Wu.

Pardon me while I ring the gong of gay Asian America once more, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Jason Wu's rise in the fashion industry can only be described as meteoric, getting his start in creating elaborate outfits for collectible dolls and launching his fashion line only three years ago. To go from an upstart Taiwanese-born designer, breaking into the American fashion scene to being cemented in the fabric of American history by dressing the First Lady on inauguration night is virtually unheard of.

Now, I'm no fashion know-it-all but I do watch my fair share of Project Runway; and I have to say that after reviewing some of Wu's work, I'm a fan. His most recent collection is wearable, playful, vibrant, and versatile. Sophisticated without being snooty, and not bogged down with the eccentric flourishes of unrealistic couture designers. He makes clothes that women want to wear.

In describing the dress Wu says this:

It's about hope. It's about newness. It's all a little dreamlike, and we're making history, and I wanted to really reflect that.

A job well done to both Michelle and Jason for making a bit of history in these increasingly diverse United States.

Below are a few shots of the First Lady wearing the famed dress by Jason Wu and a video of Barack and Michelle sharing an intimate moment, serenaded by none other than Beyonce. Click to embiggen.

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Great for Jason!

As for the dresses, didn't Laura Bush wear a dress from a gay designer too in 2004? Crazy times.

I agree 110 percent. The First Lady is expected to be a class act, even in hard times, so we wouldn't want her looking like her clothes came off the rack at Out of the Closet. But neither do we want her spending millions on a wardrobe either, with so many Americans experiencing hardship either. This latter choics is the one that many entertainment stars are now making (men as well as women), and it is going to cost them in popularity, if they continue to display conspicuous consumption on the red carpet at the Oscars, Golden Globes, etc.

The perfect choice for the First Lady is young designers and not-terribly-spendy garments, and looking classy...as Michelle did all day. The girls looked classy too, and so did their dad, by the way.

To those who didn't think that Michelle's ball gown came up to red carpet standards, I say, "Fiddle dee dee."

implicit sexism in the importance of the First Lady's fashion choices over her... I don't know, policy positions.

She's the spouse of an elected official. We all know she's very smart, but her role is ceremonial. She was not elected. I think it would be inappropriate to place more emphasis on her policy positions (which might be interesting but have nothing to do with her role as first lady) than her clothes.

A beautiful dress, a tender dance, and a lovely rendition of "At Last."

Pure magic.

Most of the haute couture designers are going broke. Bernie Madoff eliminated a whole bunch of rich clothes horses, the crashing stock market took out quite a few also.