It’s a blistering Monday afternoon, but Jason Wu is keeping his cool. The designer is at (the air-conditioned) Pier 59 Studios in Manhattan’s Chelsea to oversee a look book shoot for Miss Wu, the new contemporary collection he is launching in partnership with Nordstrom in January. The scene — the music thumping; stylist Lori Goldstein lounging around; model Meghan Collison waiting patiently in a white bathrobe for her next look, while the production staff breaks for lunch — is charming and cool, and a suitable backdrop for the line the designer maintains is his most personal work yet.
“Instead of just doing ‘Jason Wu-for-less,’ the idea is to explore the other side of myself,” Wu, 29, says. “I always see Jason Wu [the collection] as my aesthetic, my design sensibility. Miss Wu is my personality. It was really fun to explore that facet of who I am — slightly more downtown, and with a more relaxed attitude.”
The name may stem from a wide-eyed owl that serves as the company’s emblem as well as a handbag of the same name from Wu’s signature collection, but the contemporary concept is, in fact, the result of a conversation between the designer and Jeffrey Kalinsky, Nordstrom’s executive vice president of designer merchandising, two years ago. “As my brand evolved, Jeffrey thought there was an interesting area that I could expand into, the designer contemporary market,” Wu says. “He always saw this other side that was a little bit more playful and a little younger that would lend itself to a collection.”
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