Inside Jason Wu’s Midcentury-Modern-Inspired Home

His apartment is so flawless, it inspired his new fragrance.

By: Laurel Pantin
Photography: Alec Kugler

If you expected Jason Wu—the man behind some of the most beautiful clothing being made today—to have a home that is anything less than stunning, allow us to correct that misconception. The TriBeCa space is just as pristine and elegant as his collection, even with two sweet, very fuzzy cats running around—Wu matched his grey cats to his grey furniture to keep things looking neat.

Both his home and line are heavily inspired by the ’50s, and not coincidentally, the same era influenced his fragrance, which launches tomorrow. In fact, Wu, whose background is in product design, enlisted his interior designer, Andre Mellone, to conceptualize the bottle—a project unlike any other Mellone has worked on. Sleek and modern, it fits perfectly into Wu’s personal collection of brass objects. The main thing we were struck by after visiting with Wu is how totally seamless his personal universe is, and it’s one we undoubtedly want to live in too.

If smelling like Jason Wu’s vision will help us live his vision, count us in.

Click through to hear about his design sense, how he developed the fragrance, and the childhood memory that influenced the scent.

“I’ve always been really sensitive to smell. I also come from a toy design background, so I’ve always been a product design person. I always think about objects, because it’s what I did before fashion. I thought, I’ve done a lot of collaborations in the beauty space in the past 10 years of my career, because I find cosmetics and beauty products so beautiful. This project is about the design of the object, and the scent part is really important.”

“I’ve been working on it for a year and a half, and it’s really been a project that’s very close to me. It’s the one thing I’ve really wanted to do.”

“I worked with Andre Mellone on my apartment, and I also worked with him to design my store at Saks. We’ve been working together for a few years and became good friends. He’s just someone with really good taste, and he has such an eye for furniture and objects, we just speak the same language when it comes to visuals. [When it came to the bottle design] I was like, ‘Do you want to take a crack at doing this? I don’t want to go the traditional route.’ I wanted someone with a point of view that wasn’t from the perfume world.”

“This is the best time for me to do a fragrance—any earlier would not have been great, because it’s my tenth year in business. It takes ten years for someone to really know who they are—or at least it took me ten years! And also to refine the identity of my brand, and the woman, so I knew it was going to be a very feminine scent, and when I started with the fragrance houses they gave me 300 different ingredients to smell, kind of like a blind test, and you had to just react to it. Sometimes I tried to guess what it [was], sometimes I didn’t—I was good at guessing because I’m sensitive to smell.”

“There was one smell that kept coming back to me over and over, so I went back to it and I was like, ‘What is it?’ Because they don’t tell you what it is—they take their notes, it’s like a blind survey—and it was jasmine. I didn’t know why it smelled so familiar, because it’s not a flower you usually have in a floral arrangement. But then I remembered when I was growing up in Taiwan, my neighbors had a wall of jasmine and I used to pick them and use them as room scents in my room so that it would smell good. It took me back there, so I knew that had to be the central focus of the fragrance. It has to be not only the embodiment of my brand, but the embodiment of me.”

“When we were designing my apartment I told him, ‘I want everything grey,’ I’m obsessed with grey. I have a collection called Grey Jason Wu. I love grey flannel. My old apartment is just like this—it’s grey flannel everywhere, namely because I’m obsessed with the Jeffrey Beene Grey Flannel fragrance, which I came across in the ’90s, and it comes with a little grey flannel pouch. That’s when I started with my grey flannel obsession. This apartment is pretty grey. The curtains are grey, but another reason my apartment is mostly grey is because my cats are both grey and it’s much easier to maintain when there’s no color contrast between animals and furniture [laughs].”

“Yes, for sure [my home influenced the bottle design]. I collect midcentury modern art and furniture, and I just think there’s a certain beauty in the ’50s and ’60s, and it has always influenced my work. From the beginning there’s a certain put-togetherness from the ’50s that you can see in my work. Furniture from that period is really interesting to me and there’s a real discipline to shape and form. That’s what I adopted for the design of the bottle.”

“I love the navy room. We made a conscious decision not to put a TV in the living room. We entertain a lot and I don’t like it when there’s a TV. It completely changes the conversation. So we wanted a room where we could watch TV and movies, and that one was more intimate.”

“Navy is another color I love. I wanted to make this dark and moody like a smoking room—a non-smoking smoking room!”

On the possibility of doing a home collection:

“Yes, [but it’s not in the works]. But I will. I did something a few years ago for Ochre just for fun. It was just a few chairs and a small table. The coffee table in here, I designed seven years ago, and I still like it. I’m really into things that stand the test of time but aren’t really trendy.”

“My favorite space is my bedroom—I love spending time in there.”

“I have books everywhere. I’m a print person—I’m old-fashioned and I grew up with books. I really love it and so I like the idea of collecting periodicals and books. I started buying up the National Geographic on eBay. Eventually I thought I should just do the whole bookshelf yellow because that color is really amazing and some of the best images of our time are in there. There’s this sense of foreverness about those magazines that makes them really worthwhile.”

“My kitchen gets a lot of use. I love to do a hearty roast chicken, I find that really delicious and home-cooked tasting.”

“I have candles everywhere in my apartment because I do think it’s important that a place smells the way it smells—it completely changes the mood.”

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