Interview: Toronto Designer Adrian Wu


Shock value has always played a huge role in the fashion world and is more prevalent than ever with icons like Lady Gaga being produced strictly based on how many jaws they can make drop. Gaga’s street clothes are just as outrageous as her stage clothes: meat dresses and all.

Toronto designer Adrian Wu has been creating his own buzz with his spectacularly unique collections gracing the walkways of both Toronto Fashion Week and Ottawa Fashion Week this past month. But, for Wu, it’s not all about shock value! There’s a method behind the madness for this Canadian talent, and whatever that method is, it’s working. At just 21, Wu has been featured on Fashion Television and has been internationally published in the book Style Diaries.

Known for bending the gender norms through his designs and unconventional choice of models, Wu is foraying into the industry under his terms alone. We sat down with Toronto’s designer wonderkid to pick his brain on everything from a foray into the world of fine arts to men in dresses.

What would you say is your own personal style aesthetic?

I guess my personal style is very unpredictable. As a designer I separate the idea of fashion from who I am.

How so?

I think fashion and style are two completely different things. My personal style has nothing to do with what I do. I dress how I feel! I realize now, being 21, I started taking my own advice. Fashion is all about attitude: it is all about how you carry yourself. I now realize I can pull off a Dolce and Gabbana suit with a skinny tie! It’s slowly going from androgyny to boyish charm. I get bored easily, so I know it will change. My style is always changing. I feel like I’m slowly changing or starting puberty. I’m starting to understand maturity.

Do you factor in normal gender boundaries when it comes to clothing? Do they have a say in what you wear?

I think when you talk about gender boundaries you have to bring up culture and race. I toy with the idea of gender boundaries. Society created gender, viewed men’s clothing as for men and viewed women’s fashion as for women. I bring a philosophical idea to fashion. Who says men have to dress like this, and woman have to dress like this? I don’t allow those boundaries to exist. I think gender is what limits fashion, and things are changing in the 21st century. People are more open-minded. Nothing shocks us anymore, so why not cross those boundaries. It’ a philosophical debate, and not just an ethical or moral issue.

What are you thoughts on Lady Gaga and her often times androgynous style?

I think Lady Gaga is the current iconic figure of the movement. She is contributing to the movement not only within the fashion world but within society of unconventional beauty. Again, correlating this philosophical idea of everything in this world being natural, nothing is unnatural. To have someone like her be a symbol of the simple idea of being open-minded. She’s an inspiration to me too.

You’re known for using both male and female models when it comes to modeling your “woman’s” collections. Do you see your line as being marketed towards both men and women?

My main reasoning is that I do not design for women, I design for human beings. Someone criticized me for being just shock value, but it’s not just shock value! If you critique my work, I analyze every little detail! What is aesthetic? What is pleasing to the eye? Can a man can pull off a dress? I think he can do it. And who is to say a man cannot wear a dress? People forget that I do not design for women: I design for human beings. And simply because of coincidence, you can call me a fashion designer. My medium is a human being, or just a being in general. A figure.


Would you ever do a men’s line?

I acknowledge that the fashion industry has its own protocol and I would work within it! I feel I could bring something new to men’s fashion. I think I could do well. You never know!

What would you call yourself if you don’ t want to be called a fashion designer?

I’d like to think that I am an artist! An artist in my definition is someone that expresses themselves through mediums. Or a philosopher. What I dislike about fashion is this ridiculous concentration on materialism. I care about the meaning and I care about getting your attention. Fashion is what has become of my life.

What’s next for Adrian Wu?

The fashion business in Canada is hard. I’m not the only one who is working hard and we have to be realistic: the fashion industry in Canada does not work like the European system where people buy clothes off the runway. The art market here is more realistic when it comes to making money. Next, I am going to take the biggest risk of my life and go into a world that is not fashion but one I consider where I can be taken seriously as an artist. To sell my work as art, that is a goal. I am not leaving fashion, and by definition I am a fashion designer. I am calling out for people who believe in me, that know me, and I need those sponsors and funding. And that is where I want to be: New York Fashion Week, or Paris! I’m taking it one day at a time.

Wu plans on holding a gallery opening to showcase his first collection of fine art in Toronto shortly and has a piece opening at the Canadian Textile Museum in January. From bending gender roles to an ever-changing idea of personal style, Wu is the one to watch when it comes to Canada’s fashion scene! 


Emberlynn at 14 Jan 2012

I'm not easily irmpsseed but you've done it with that posting.

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