Jason Wu knows firsthand the seamless relationship between fashion and beauty—especially when it comes to the catwalk. In fact, the decorated fashion designer prides himself in personally providing the beauty direction for all his seasonal runway demonstrations.
"I have always been very involved in creating fun beauty looks to complement my fashion shows," Wu tells Byrdie exclusively. "To me, beauty is the cherry on top of the sundae. It completes the vision for my ready-to-wear collections."
After chatting with the Taiwanese-Canadian artist about his beauty philosophy, we quickly understood his gradual transition into the makeup industry with the official launch of Jason Wu Beauty. Making his dream of reviving effortless glam—at affordable prices—a reality, the initial roll-out of everyday essentials for eyes, cheeks, lips, and brows is already available to shop online, but will make its brick-and-mortar debut at Target on January 17.
We chatted with Wu about the inspiration behind his nude-colored collection, his transition into the beauty industry, and why he found it important to create products that are Leaping Bunny approved.
Congratulations on launching your cosmetic line under the umbrella of Bespoke Beauty Brands! So, what inspired you to take that leap into the makeup industry?
I’ve always been passionate about beauty. I've done many collaborations in the past, but to launch my own beauty brand with Toni Ko of Bespoke Beauty Brands is a huge honor. We're not a big corporate company, so the products don’t have to be decided by a committee. This allows us to be able to develop things very quickly in a way that is purely instinctual. It’s just Toni and I texting, calling, or Zooming each other like, 'What do you think of this?' or 'What do you think about that?'
Honestly, I think some of the best things come from that. Being able to develop a collection during the pandemic and deliver it in 2021 feels like a fresh new surprise to a fresh new year. I'm really thrilled about this.
There are so many exciting products available in the initial launch of Jason Wu Beauty—which are your favorites?
I think Hot Fluff ($12) is the best product in the line. Thanks to a 3-in-1 formula, it can be used as lipstick, blush, or eyeshadow. People love the idea that they can create a monochromatic look in minutes. Honey Fluff ($12) is also really great. It's a whipped, matte lip cream that’s infused with jojoba seed oil and grape seed oil to keep your lips nourished. Both of these products can be used in conjunction with the Stay In Line Lip Liner ($10), which comes in coordinating shades.
Also in the collection, there’s a really fun product called Jason The Freckled Boy ($14). I created it because I started getting freckles nearly a decade ago. I'm really embracing them and displayed it at my Spring/Summer 2021 fashion show by putting bold freckles on the models.
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You made it a point to create products that are clean, vegan, and cruelty-free. Why was this important to you?
As a creator, I understand that fashion and beauty has an impact on the environment—it is a real issue! I’m a huge proponent for clean, sustainable, vegan, and cruelty-free production because I believe you don’t have to compromise that logic to achieve a really beautiful product. We've shown that it's possible!
Why did you choose to include a pimple patch in the collection?
Masks have made our skin more prone to breakouts and blemishes. This is why I thought it was a very important item to include in my collection. It can come in handy for men, women, children—honestly, everyone. It's a lifesaver, and I love that we were able to offer that within the assortment.
With years of experience in the fashion industry, did you notice any similarities between designing a clothing collection and a beauty line?
It's all about aesthetics. To me, the idea of creating something that can help people feel uplifted makes creating beauty and fashion similar.
You mentioned that you wanted your beauty line to echo "refined femininity." Can you explain what that means to you?
Refined femininity and elegance is something that allows your natural beauty to shine through versus covering it. For example, the Celestial Lust - 04 Lace & Grace ($12) looks like you have something on, but it doesn't take over your facial features. You don’t need to wear six layers of makeup to be beautiful.
Did this notion play a defining role in creating a nude-colored collection?
I've always found nudes to be feminine and beautiful. I love that the color comes in such a wide variety of shades, from pale pinks to dark browns. When it comes to makeup, it’s very necessary that it works on a variety of skin tones and my line caters to this need.
With the beauty industry evolving due to the pandemic, did you find yourself having to pivot the brand’s vision?
No. Actually, it's funny because although we started before the mandated shutdowns, a lot of the production was done during the pandemic. Our plan was to create something that's very user-friendly. The Hot Fluff, for example, is a 3-in-1 formula that can be used for your eyes, lips, and cheeks. This is great—especially during this time—because if you're jumping on a Zoom call, it's a one product thing. You can get glam in just a matter of minutes. It’s really effortless.
What can we expect next from Jason Wu Beauty?
Toni and I are already talking about offering more colors. We came in with something lighter and more natural because there is already a lot of heavier makeup out in the market, and we didn't feel like we would be able to add to that. Expect a lot more range within the new capsules that are set to launch later this year. We’re definitely staying true to the sole idea of the Jason Wu Beauty collection, which is letting your beauty shine through.
1% of net sales from the brand’s website will be donated to Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), which works with the LGBTQ+ community to provide shelter and food for those in need.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.