When designer Jason Wu first came to public attention six years ago, all most people knew about him was that he had designed first lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown. While that fact catapulted the designer to fame, it has been, from one season to the next, a bit of a trap from which he must free himself. Listen to the murmurs every season and one hears the same question: “Do you think that’s something the first lady would wear?”

News flash: Jason Wu designs for more than just the first lady.

Granted, his glittery gowns with their long trains are still the height of the show. When a very tan Karlie Kloss came down the runway in a black tailored gown  with a six-foot train, the resulting gasp from the audience nearly sucked all the air from the room. Its white counterpart is just begging to be worn at dozens of June weddings.

Wu knows what is expected of him and sent the lovely Karen Elson down first in a beautiful, sparkling, backless cocktail dress. From there, though, he toyed with breaking the mold, then putting it back together. Looks ranged from mostly-sheer corsets with sheer skirts to absolutely wonderful sleeveless business suits. Along the way, there were knit jackets over sequin, bias from head to toe, and no small quantity of cargo pockets. The looks even get casual at times, with sheer blouses over shorts, slacks and pencil skirts.

Wu kept his color palette fairly neutral, moving from white to grey with bits of blue, pink, and mint thrown in before going tan with a handful of looks. There’s enough variation in the palette to make most any skin tone look as stunning as possible, which is important given Wu’s international audience.

At the end of the show, the Mercer Street audience was excited and happy about what they’d seen, everyone going on and on (and on and on) about how much they loved this piece or that. It seems that there was something for just about everyone in this unique collection.

Alas, not that many people in the Midwest can afford Jason Wu. Most women just don’t have the wardrobe budget of a first lady. Ah, but one can always dream … and max out the credit card.

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