Adrian Wu: Canadian Born, Internationally Raised and Europe Bound

Last year, fashion designer Adrian Wu wasn’t ready for LG Fashion Week.

Wu applied to show his work at the Toronto-based fashion week’s Spring/Summer 2011 exhibition, but was turned away because his collection was “unfinished”, he said.

Wu said he later met Robin Kay, LG Fashion Week’s organizer, at a party and she said,  “Oh, I know who you are. Oh, you’ll be ready.”

This year, Wu was ready. He will show his collection, “Creatures of the Protons”, at LG Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012 on Oct. 21. Wu said he emailed Kay to thank her for the opportunity and she replied, “It’s great for you to be runway ready, but you have to be press ready and money ready because these are the keys to success.” Wu hired a PR representative and an assistant in preparation for the big day.

Wu’s collection for LG is inspired by quantum physics. He said his pieces represent the stages of evolution. “It’s the philosophical idea that fashion isn’t just about fashion, and everything in life is connected,” he said seeming lost in his thoughts as he tried to explain his vision.

Models will sashay down the runway to the sounds of a string quartet. Wu used a lightweight, wrinkly fabric called voile to create his 15 piece collection. “I don’t have expectations [LG Fashion Week] will benefit my career. I think it will greater my emotional self, seeing my work, my ideas come to life,” he said.

The 21-year-old, Burlington, Ont. native, described himself as a CBC, a Canadian-born-Chinese. He discussed his life thus far while wearing slim, plaid women’s trousers from H&M, a white, button-down and a skinny black tie. His black, thick-rimmed glasses were surrounded by a full head of black, thoughtfully-disheveled hair. Wu grew up accompanying his mother, Jean Carole Wu, on international shopping trips. Wu said his family traveled to at least two different countries a year. “There was a reason why we traveled. It was because my mom was shopping…I shouldn’t be surprised that I became a fashion designer…80 per cent of my childhood was spent waiting for my mom. I was subconsciously analyzing the clothes that were around me,” he said.

Wu said his mother, a real estate agent, taught him about good style and taste. “It’s one thing to have a fashionable mother, it’s another to have a mother whose closet is 80 per cent luxury designer goods…It is like walking through a history archive of fashion,” he said.

The self-taught designer entered the fashion industry at age 18 after dropping out of university. His work has been largely financed by his parents. His father, Dr. Paul Wu is a gynecologist. “The fact that I have been able to afford my designs…I understand how fortunate I am,” Wu said.

Wu has set his sights on Toronto, then Paris for the next phase of his career. “I think it has to be…I will not think myself a success [in Canada]. When they you talk to average Canadians they would not be able to tell you the name of one Canadian designer…Europe or New York is the place to be,” he said.

Wu said wants to establish a successful Canadian business before jetting off to Europe. He is moving to downtown Toronto to open a “studio fashion gallery”, where he will live, work and curate an art gallery. “That’s where the Canadian fashion industry exists. That’s where the contacts are.”

Next, he plans to get his work into the European fashion market. “I need to get someone in Europe to see my work” he said. Wu’s final goal is to show at Paris Fashion Week in the Spring. If he succeeds he will be the youngest designer to do so. “I want to be part of history,” he said.