Alas, the First Lady was a no-show, but that didn't stop fashion's newest darling, Jason Wu (who designer Michelle Obama's inaugural gown), from moving forward with an utterly refined show. With a fairy-tale theme interwoven throughout his jewel-toned gowns and separates (based on the drawings of Arthur Rackham, who illustrated "Alice in Wonderland"), Wu clearly is establishing himself as the next couturier to the ladies-who-lunch set.
That said, though, his front row at Exit Art, aside from the industry's elite, featured two young starlets in their own right: Joy Bryant and Gretchen Mol. "Jason was the first designer I wore to an event post-baby," Mol said. "I went to his studio and he knew my bodily issues and concerns immediately. That takes some talent." Bryant, also a second-season attendee, was basking in the designer's glow. "What a difference a year makes, huh?" she said, wide-eyed as she took in the jam-packed audience. "He's on this platform now to represent American fashion. Plus he's a little cutie pie that I just want to gobble up!"
Backstage, where Gucci Westman (for Revlon) handled the makeup and Kevin Ryan mastered the simple ponytail hairdos, things were, surprisingly, calm and quite collected. Wu, who admitted to not having had breakfast (nor did he even get a chance to see his parents and brother who flew in from Taiwan the night before), handled round after round after round of interviews without breaking so much as a sweat. "This is really for and about the industry," he said of his choice to not enlarge his venue and fill it with the entire Gossip Girl cast.
In case you were wondering what the soundtrack of a White House-approved designer sounds like, here's the playlist from Wu's show:
1. Nick Drake's "Cello Song" (starting with the original version and ending with a remake by The Books and José González)
2. "Storm" by José González
3. "Music for Playgrounds" by Tom Hagerman
Jim Shi was born in Brussels, Belgium and grew up in Paris before moving to New York City. For the past four and a half years, Shi was fashion news editor of IMG's fashion and media industry publication The Daily and editor of its sister web site, Fashion Week Daily. He has covered Fashion Weeks in New York, Milan, and Paris.
PHOTOS BY PATRICK MCMULLAN