In September, Elle magazine sent market director Joann Pailey and market editor Jade Frampton to Jason Wu’s spring 2009 show. This season, seven additional staffers will be attending from the magazine: editor in chief Robbie Myers, creative director Joe Zee, style director Kate Lanphear, and editors Whitney Vargas, Kate Davidson Hudson, Alexa Brazilian and Malina Joseph.
Invitations to view Mr. Wu’s fall 2009 collection went out a full month before his show, which is scheduled for Feb. 13 at Exit Art on 10th Avenue. But that was when Mr. Wu’s name was still relatively unknown outside a small group of buyers and fashion editors. After Michelle Obama wore the 26-year-old designer’s beaded ivory dress to the 10 inaugural balls, a media explosion followed, and now Mr. Wu’s show might be the hottest ticket in town. (Maybe the second-hottest, since Marc Jacobs has made a very public big deal about reducing the number of seats at his show.)
“What’s happened for him is pretty much the perfect storm for a designer,” said Bergdorf Goodman fashion director Linda Fargo. “He will be under the most wonderful spotlight.”
Mr. Wu’s September show, held at the same venue, did have some prominent names; it was attended by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, for one. But it also had some fashion bloggers and mid-level reporters, who are typically deported to the second, third and fourth rows at the more high-profile shows, sharing the front row with Ms. Wintour. Now Mr. Wu’s dedicated attendees are probably wondering if their seats will be bumped back a bit.
“Last season was a much more intimate show. His biggest name in the front row was probably [Gossip Girl star] Leighton Meester, and she’s been a client and muse of his for some time,” said Elle’s Ms. Pailey. “This season will certainly be a bigger affair.”
From Bergdorf, only Ms. Fargo and senior women’s fashion director Roopal Patel attended the last show. This time, Bergdorf’s buying team, who skipped last season’s show, is coming along.
“When you’re new, you have to accept a lot of people that are really unknown to you,” said Ms. Fargo. “Now they’ll have to be more selective and edit the list, which is not a bad problem to have. Will it be peppered with more high-profile names? Most likely.”
When the Transom ran into Mr. Wu at Fashion Group International’s Rising Star awards last week, he said that at the moment, he’s just trying to focus on the show.
“What happened was amazing, but I still need to put my all into the collection,” he said. “I feel extreme pressure, but that’s always the case. Putting on a show, I always feel like I’m giving birth. It’s my baby. Right now it’s important for us to just remain grounded.”
Mr. Wu’s publicist, Anne Fahey, assured the Transom that those who have attended previous shows will not be forced out of their seats in favor of celebrities or more high-profile editors or buyers. “We give priority to the people we have relationships with,” explained Ms. Fahey. “There is limited space at the show and we’re getting more requests, but we’ll do the best we can. It’s a case-by-case basis for each magazine, as we figure out how many seats we can give them.” (Ms. Fahey admitted that several actresses, whom she declined to name, have reached out wanting to attend.)
Meanwhile, Ms. Fargo suggested that unlike other designers who might cultivate a level of exclusivity at the shows (hi, Mr. Jacobs!), Mr. Wu is a decidedly different sort of animal.
“Knowing Jason, I think he’s not a person who relishes on the pretense of being exclusive, that’s just not who he is, so I don’t think he will enjoy turning people away,” she said. “But it will be a matter of, the box is only so big.”
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