First Lady Michelle Obama stunned fashion critics when she chose a creation by fashion designer Jason Wu for the second time to wear to an inaugural ball on Monday, Jan. 21.
Mrs. Obama impressed viewers when she stepped out in a stunning ruby red chiffon and velvet gown, with a halter style straps that plunged in a deep-V in the back. Mrs. Obama stuck with the tradition of wearing a dress that shows off her toned arms and cinched her waist. President Obama wore a black tuxedo with a white bowtie, the same look he wore to the inaugural balls in 2009.
Wu previously designed a red chiffon gown with lace detail which was worn by supermodel Karlie Kloss at the Met Gala last year. Wu's "Lace Underlay Draped Chiffon" gown retails for $3,995 at several websites so Enstars estimates that Obama's custom-made chiffon gown with velvet detail would cost at least $5,000 if it were to be made available for retail purchase.
It came as a surprise to many that the first lady would choose an inaugural gown by the same designer who created the white, one shoulder gown she wore to the commander-in-chief's inaugural ball in 2009. Fashion critics expected her to wear another lesser-known designer after she helped the Taiwanese visionary become an overnight sensation.
Wu, who was in his mid-twenties at the time at the first of the first inauguration, was thrust into the spotlight and landed several deals from the exposure. He has since created exclusive fashion lines for both Target and Nordstrom. The 30-year-old shared his gratitude and shock that his design was selected again in an interview with CBS' "News This Morning." Wu spoke about the experience with anchor Gayle King on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
"I was still at my studio designing the fall collection that I'm presenting in less than three weeks," Wu said. "So I was actually with my team, which was really nice. When I saw it, I was just floored. I just couldn't believe that she chose me for the second time ... I am so proud of it."
The designer, who has been in business for six years, said it has been "amazing to have that exposure" and to be able to quickly expand his brand since the first lady wore his design to the inaugural balls four years ago. Wu explained the process behind designing a gown for the first lady.
"I sent a couple sketches but we only made one dress. Red was what came to my head right away ... As a designer I always have to trust my instincts."
The process was though more collaborative between his design team and the White House this time around, he explained.
"Last time, she didn't [make suggestions], but this time I said, 'I think red is a really good color' and they said, 'Well, Mrs. Obama thinks red is a good color too," he said. "I guess we were in sync from the beginning. We worked pretty closely with the team to perfect the dress. There [were] a lot of back and forth trips ... it took a couple of months."
Wu described the several month ordeal as a "a wonderful process" and that he was "grateful to be able to work on it and put so much into a dress that is a part of history."
Wu recently released an affordable line for Nordstrom called Miss Wu. The 40-piece collection of separates ranges from $100-$900. Watch the video below to see Jason Wu discuss how in shock he was when he found out the first lady chose one of his designs again for her husband's second inauguration.