Jason Wu will be living out a fantasy Sunday night.
One of a handful of designers who is doing a live event during New York Fashion Week, Wu is creating Mr. Wu’s General Store at an empty storefront at 666 Broadway in New York to showcase his fall 2021 contemporary fashion collection.
Wu will create a real-life general store, based on a 1950s-era utopian farmer’s market general store. The store will feature thousands of items and nearly 50 different types of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables. The food for the set will be provided by The Chefs’ Warehouse and after the show, Wu will donate it all to City Harvest to help feed those in need.
“Mr. Wu’s General Store is my fantasy store. It’s so special because I love food,” said Wu, in an interview this week. The designer spent a great deal of his time during the pandemic cooking and trying out 150 new recipes last year for his Instagram food diary site, MrWuEats.
Produced by IMG Focus, the show will take place at 5 p.m. on Sunday before an audience of 20 to 25 people. It will feature 30 models and will be livestreamed exclusively on NYFW.com.
According to Wu, the idea for the general store came to him because he was feeling nostalgic about Americana. “I love going to the farmer’s market in New York City, and cooking has been getting me through the pandemic,” he said. Particularly from last March to June, he was living in Tribeca and there was no sign of life. Pre-pandemic, he said, he’d be busy with people coming to town and things going on, and as a creative person, he thrives on seeing and hearing and experiencing new things. But during the pandemic, he turned to home cooking to fight boredom.
On his Instagram site, MrWuEats the designer showcases his meals every day, where he makes things from scratch and features local farmers. About two and a half years ago, Wu spent two weeks in Taiwan with his mother, Mei Yun Wu, learning her recipes, “a passing down of the baton of family tradition,” he told WWD last August. He said he’s always liked to cook, but that interest intensified in the past year. Lately, he’s cooking three nights a week.
Those in Sunday night’s audience won’t get to enjoy any of the food, and they’ll have to wear masks and adhere to safety precautions during the show. “It’s really about the concept,” he said.
After last season’s show, which was held on the Spring Studios rooftop and was a green oasis inspired by an escape to Tulum, Wu donated the 800 palm trees to the A. Visconti Garden Center in Brooklyn. That fashion show was sponsored by Lowe’s, and Wu said he received “amazing response” from it.
This season’s setting tells a different story. “The narrative is storytelling, and what’s great about fashion, is it seems disparate, but you can make it into something of a fantasy,” said Wu.
“The food theme felt very natural,” he added.
“This will strike a chord with people. This is where our life is; culturally this is what’s going on in our lives,” he said. He spent the last two months orchestrating the general store and is so excited about it finally coming to fruition. “It’s quite the process. My head has been in the grocery list,” he said.
Wu is also collaborating with Coca-Cola for the fashion show. Coca-Cola will be integrated into the set concept (Coca-Cola will be featured in the store). On the runway, some of the pieces are inspired by Coca-Cola — some are historical and archival. In addition, Wu will showcase a Coca-Cola collaboration piece exclusive with the NYFW: The Shows as part of The Drops.
This is the first time that Wu has teamed with City Harvest, which he said “is the best at what they do.” Since COVID-19 began, City Harvest has ramped up its operations significantly in order to meet the surging need for food across New York City. Now almost a year since the pandemic began in New York, the need remains massive and unprecedented. Nearly one in every three New Yorkers has visited a food pantry this year, up 250 percent since before the pandemic, according to a new analysis from Robin Hood.
To meet the need, City Harvest is more than doubling the amount of food they plan to rescue and deliver, free of charge, this year to 144 million pounds. That is more food than City Harvest has ever delivered in a year before, and about 15 percent of all the food the organization has delivered in its 38-year history.
On Valentine’s Day, City Harvest will be collecting the food, including 49 different types of produce items, dairy products such as organic eggs and cheeses, and shelf stable food items such as crackers, nuts and various spices, from Wu’s show.
The Chefs’ Warehouse, which is providing all the food, is the leading distributor of specialty food to chefs.
“It is great to see Jason’s innovative general store concept come to fruition and we are excited that he chose The Chefs’ Warehouse for his product showcase,” the company said. The Chef’s Warehouse also said that if a home chef is interested in ordering some of the restaurant-quality ingredients, they can go to shop.chefswarehouse.com for a selection of products and allenbrothers.com for meat and seafood.
All of the food will be loaded into one of City Harvest’s food rescue trucks after the show and delivered that same night to several food pantries across the five boroughs, including Children of the Light in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and distributed to New Yorkers in need.
The designer has been busy on several fronts during the pandemic, including striking a partnership last year with 1-800-Flowers, which has launched its third collection, (there will be 1-800-Flowers in the general store), expanding his bath collection with Brizo into the kitchen; launching beauty at Target last month, and releasing a collection for QVC called J Jason Wu last November.
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