First Lady's dress designer wows the Big Apple

Taiwan-born Jason Wu takes the laurels in NYC, the first of the big international shows

Jason Wu does not enjoy the profile of Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren when it comes to New York Fashion Week, first of this month's major international shows ahead of London, Milan and Paris. But Wu was the one to watch on Friday.

The 28-year-old Taiwanese-born designer shot to fame after Michelle Obama wore a sparkling white Jason Wu gown to her husband's Inauguration Ball; and Wu's collection on Friday night was not a little geared to this most famous of patrons.

A-line shift dresses and evening coats came trimmed with swirls of lace climbing from hems and shoulder seams like voracious ivy. There were slick cigarette pants too, paired with mannish grey sweaters, also embroidered with lace. But the pièce de résistance was the final look: a stunning floor-length crimson gown, strapless and belted with gold brocade detailing.

It would have been the perfect dress for the First Lady to have worn to the President's Chinese state dinner last month: instead she wore a red gown from the British designer Alexander McQueen, to the annoyance of several of America's top names in the business, not to mention the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which is fiercely protective of home-grown talent. Wu will be hoping his creations, inspired by the restoration of Versailles, tempt his patron back.

Elsewhere, it was up to Christian Siriano, who dressed Mad Men's Christina Hendricks in a controversial strapless peach gown at the 2010 Golden Globes, to provide the only killer looks. Quite literally, given that the shoes at his show nearly killed at least four models, with girls tripping and stumbling down the catwalk. One model was so irritated that she took them off in a huff during the finale.

On the subject of suffering for fashion, anyone bemoaning the return of the bodysuit to the high street might despair at one of the key looks at Rebecca Minkoff's show. The designer kept the bodysuit flame burning with a black leotard, worn under a black blazer with black lazy tights.

Despite the twice-yearly carping about models' undersized frames, criticism this time round has focused on an inanimate object: PepsiCo's skinny new diet drink can. The drinksgiant billed its can as a "taller, sassier" drink, but fashionistas think the company has overstepped the mark with its size-zero version and are furious that Pepsi, which is launching the can next month, is comparing being skinny with celebrating beautiful women.

New York Fashion Week has a reputation for chic, wearable clothes from designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg, and is key to the city's fashion industry, which is based around 7th Avenue. It runs for the next four days, with highlights including Marc Jacobs's show, which will be held tomorrow night.

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