The rapid rise of Jason Wu ably demonstrates that not all couturiers are cut from the same cloth, writes Mark Graham.
Designer Jason Wu is nothing if not ambitious. The New York-based wunderkind is expanding his own-name label, launching a second line, performing the role of chief womenswear designer for a major European brand and making appearances on Chinese television as a talent-show judge.
It helps that Wu has youth on his side, a formidable work ethic and a coterie of high-profile fans that includes Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow.
The 31-year-old initially shot to fame when he received an endorsement from American First Lady Michelle Obama. The influential style icon, already a fan of the emerging Chinese designer, reaffirmed that admiration by choosing a Jason Wu gown for the first Barack Obama presidential inauguration ball.
She chose a Wu gown more recently, for the US president's second inauguration ball and is regularly seen in the designer's clothes and accessories, including a vivid-coloured coat she donned when meeting Queen Elizabeth II of Britain.
The Obama endorsements gave Wu free worldwide publicity, not to mention massive prestige, and it is fair to say he has not been slow to capitalise on getting such a lucky break so early in his career.
"Everything changed overnight," he recalls. "It was a huge opportunity, although I did not realise that at the time. All I cared about was that she looked good in the dress, like any designer would. I don't know much about politics and I don't try. It is not my world. That is why I am not a politician.
"I have grown up significantly, and over the past few years, I have spent time trying to live up to expectations and defy expectations that I would be a one-hit wonder."
There is no danger of anyone thinking that stellar start was a flash in the pan. Confirmation of Wu's arrival as a major force on the international stage came with his appointment as womenswear artistic designer for the giant German fashion brand Hugo Boss, with his first full-scale collection due to debut in stores this year.