Hugo Boss signs up Michelle Obama dress designer Jason Wu

Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:22am EDT
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Hugo Boss has signed up designer Jason Wu, a favorite of American First Lady Michelle Obama, as the German fashion house seeks to sell more women's dresses and suits in the United States and China.

Hugo Boss, mainly known for its suits for men, gets about 11 percent of its 2.4 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in annual sales from womenswear and has been looking to expand this area.

Taiwan-born Wu, known for his love of ladylike designs, founded his eponymous label in New York in 2007 but rose to fame after designing the ivory one-shoulder gown that Michelle Obama wore to Barack Obama's first inauguration ball in 2009.

He also designed the red dress she wore to Obama's second inauguration ball in February this year.

"I plan to develop a strong, feminine womenswear collection that reciprocates the brand's authority in menswear," he said in a statement on Monday.

Wu, 30, will take on the newly created position of artistic director for Boss Womenswear, with his first collection for the brand to be shown in autumn and a debut runway show during the New York Fashion Week in February 2014.

The group is in negotiations with Womenswear Creative Director Eyan Allen, who has been with the company since 2007, over his future role, a spokeswoman for Hugo Boss told Reuters. Wu's new title is superior to that of Allen's.

Womenswear has so far proven difficult for Hugo Boss, as the market is more crowded than that for men's fashions, HSBC analyst Antoine Belge said.

"Even Hugo Boss has acknowledged that it's not where it wants to be on womenswear. They haven't yet found the right balance between classic and comfortable and more cutting-edge," he told Reuters.   Continued...

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, dressed in Jason Wu, waves to the crowd after dancing her first dance of inauguration night with President Barack Obama at the leadoff Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder