“A few years ago all I wanted to do was succeed in fashion,” he reveals on Wednesday’s premiere episode of Out of Character with Krista Smith on USA (airing at 11 p.m. EST). “I didn’t think my work would be in the museum,” he says of the inaugural gown he designed for Michelle Obama, which currently lives at the Smithsonian.
Though he never fathomed Obama would select his dress — and effectively change his life forever — Wu always designs with a person in mind. “I think it’s important to have a connection with the person you’re dressing,” he shares. “Fashion is so personal and I put a lot of me into everything that I do.”
To that end, the designer, who went from a 100-square-foot apartment (“a cabinet”) to a 9,000-square-foot studio in New York’s garment district, is still involved in every aspect of his ever-growing business. “I’m so hands on. I’m on my knees doing the fitting all the time, for every single fitting. I don’t want to miss any part of it, because that’s why I’m in this industry,” he gushes. “I wanted to do that.”