Jason Wu Kicks Off NYFW With A Live Rooftop Show Celebrating Escapism

It may be New York Fashion Week, but the lobby of Spring Studios was so empty that you needn’t wear heels to hear the echo of your own footsteps. Gone from the NYFW hub’s grand entrance was the artisan café serving lavender lattes. No pop-up TRESemmé salon for a last-minute blowout, and of course, no VIP lounge. The paparazzi outside outnumbered the handful of guests trickling in, who were greeted by half a dozen security personnel with digital thermometers in hand. Event staff and most attendees were required to present proof of a Covid-19 test taken no more than five days before the show. All guests had to fill out a questionnaire and clear temperature-checks upon entry.  

While the massive lobby was void, the rooftop was vibrant. Not with people, but with plants. The elevators opened to a lush landscape of palms, white sands and a runway made of pewter pine planks. One World Trade Center peered over the tropical wonderland seating roughly 40 guests (not counting photographers) dispersed along the runway. 

“If I can’t travel to paradise then paradise is coming to me,” said designer Jason Wu in an interview immediately following his show. “For Spring 2021, I was inspired by Tulum, my home away from home.”

With Art Basel, the Cannes Yacht Festival, Burning Man and many cultural events announcing cancellations or digital pivots this year, many expected New York Fashion Week to follow suit. While a majority of the shows will stream, Lowe’s is bringing an element of live to the radically pared down event. The home improvement retailer has teamed up with Christian Siriano, Rebecca Minkoff and Jason Wu to present their Spring 2021 collections on the rooftop of Spring Studios.

Produced by IMG, NYFW is usually backed by sponsors such as BMW and Perrier, but for the first time added Lowe’s to the mix. Lowe’s recognized this was an opportune time to remind shoppers that it sells more than just appliances and lumber, but stylish furniture and home accents that are CFDA designer-approved.

“We worked with IMG to pick designers considered to be the new guard of fashion and draw the connections between fashion and home,” says Marisa Thalberg, Lowe’s chief marketing officer. 

“Home has taken a different meaning this year,” says Wu. “It means staying in your apartment for five months so I wanted a brief moment for people to feel great and a slice of paradise.

Each designer has curated a collection of items available at Lowe’s that happen to jive with their Spring 2021 looks. Selected items will be used in the backdrops of their respective runway shows. As for Wu, this meant distressed wood-finished chairs, sand-hued rugs elevated by geometrical patterns, and a jacquard throw woven in a Bohemian black and white.

Escapism was the underlying theme for the set decor as well as his Spring 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Like the boardwalk-inspired runway, many of Wu’s ensembles featured distressed looks, from pre-washed cotton poplins to texturized light, open trenches. “The clothes have a well-worn texture that give them character and vibrancy,” says Wu.

The scalloped, hand-embroidered tops and romantic, pleated dresses offer the Jason Wu woman a comfortable fit but a structured look.

“It’s my most casual showing yet,” says Wu. “People usually know me for my big red carpet gowns but I wanted to show that I can do glam and casual at the same time. I want clothes people can feel amazing and comfortable in but have a refined element that’s true to the brand’s DNA.”

But his Spring collection snuck in some business into the leisure. While his line beamed with prints inspired by wild hibiscus and hues borrowed from tropical shrubs and coastal bliss, a black blazer did make it onto the runway, as the 37-year-old designer believes his customer will once again seek professional attire. 

“I’m betting on beauty,” says Wu. “If we have the perfect blazer it’s something we can wear forever. This collection is not just for right now because I don’t want throwaway clothes.”  

As for all the set décor for Wu’s “Paradise in the City” show, all the greenery will be donated to A. Visconti Garden Center, a local business in Brooklyn, while furniture will go to GHMC, an organization for HIV/AIDS prevention. Wu, who sits on the board, says it will refurnish the community dining room.

“We don’t want anything to go to waste,” says Wu. 

Minkoff’s show will take place Tuesday evening and Siriano on Thursday.

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