Interview Series #1: Merry Wu

Special Occasions Designer


Fleeting memories vividly captured in lace, chiffon, and romantic silhouette –Merry Wu is a special occasions designer whom we should keep on our radar.

Merry Wu’s Cloud Dress Photographed by Chester Canasa 


Fleeting memories vividly captured in lace, chiffon, and romantic silhouette –Merry Wu is a special occasions designer whom we should keep on our radar.

It is a huge responsibility to create works for people that will be immortalized in their minds. It is the image that people will remember for the rest of their life after all: the sunlight passing through the layers of chiffon, the silky touch of the wedding dress, or organza adorning the chest, blending into the colors of the sky.

Currently working as an assistant designer at a leading evening wear company in NYC, Merry also creates her own couture designs with elegance in mind. Merry’s dresses are delicate yet powerful, with the lines of the dresses flowing and gently caressing the body to empower the wearer. She draws her inspiration from ethereal landscapes and fairytales, which instantly becomes clear when you look at her works. When your eyes follow the layers of the light lilac hued chiffon and the bodice, with its detailed beadwork resembling small white flowers, you find yourself breathing in the early morning lavender air as brisk cerulean wind tenderly tangles your hair.

For the launch of our Creative Professional Interview series, Vuetelle spent a Saturday afternoon with special occasions designer Merry Wu to discuss her artistry, ambitions, and plans for 2019.

Vuetelle: Merry, it is so great to have time to chat with you. How have you been?

Merry: I've been great! Thank you.

V: 2019 just started. Do you have any plans you would like to share with our readers?

M: For 2019, I’m hoping to get my mini capsule collection of 5 pieces going.

V: May I ask what a mini capsule collection is?

M: Sure! It is a small collection, not a whole line. The collection is to create and showcase to people. So it is often personal, which is the case for me.

V: Let’s jump right in, shall we? What is your first memory of wanting to enter the fashion field?

M: My first memory of wanting to enter the fashion field… When I was very young, I remember flipping through an Asian fashion magazine one day, and I encountered a Rococo editorial. I was simply mesmerized. After that day I began to draw stick figures with clothes. One of my middle school classmates saw my drawings and suggested that I can become a fashion designer. Until that moment, I didn’t even realize that it can be a possible career option! I am very grateful for that friend to inspire and push me toward the right path.

V: I see! Rococo certainly describes your style very well. Ornate, detailed, and romantic…

M: Haha, yes! I love Rococo and Baroque style very much.

V: What was your very first piece you designed or created?

M: In terms of design, I think it was an evening gown. I’ve always been fascinated by gowns and dresses. I’m drawn to the intricate beading, laces, and textures [of evening gowns]. For the first garment I created, it was actually a Halloween costume from Beauty and the Beast I made in my freshman year of high school!

V: The Disney version, right? Belle’s golden ballroom dress.

M: Yes!

V: Do you have any pictures of it?

M: I wish! I remember taking a picture with it, but you know, it is a long time ago when we didn’t have good technology like now, haha. I’m sure the photo is somewhere though.

V: I read in your bio that you draw your inspiration from “making each garment into a fairy tale story come true from [your] imagination, mood, and details for the [patrons] to experience.” Do you have any memorable story of a specific dress that you believed was a magical fairy tale come true?

M: Ah, yes. The gradient cocktail dress! I had a design in mind, but when I tried to pursue it, I couldn’t do it because I was advised against it by a critic. I had a certain vision in mind, but I decided to listen to the commentary and altered my process from fabric making, beading, and construction. It became a completely different dress from the initial design. But somehow, it was still my dress. I was in it. I could see my vision expressed in a different way. Just like a fairy tale passed down for many years, changing into different forms but still remaining the same at the core.

Also, I think Couture itself is like a magical fairy tale. It is something so special. In the world full of fast fashion of continuous cycles and repeats, I find one-of-a-kind work is so rare and difficult to create. Couture doesn’t repeat itself. Once it is created, it forever remains as it is forever.

V: What is your favorite fairy tale?

M: My favorite fairy tale is definitely Snow Queen. I loved the protagonist Gerda’s journey to save her best friend and someone so dear to her. I felt that it is a coming-of-age story. Readers experience the magical story as Gerda’s character develops and discovers the world. I also loved how the story defines the line between good and bad.


Claude Monet, Water Lilies


V: What other places do you draw your inspiration from?

M: It may sound a little cliche, but my inspiration comes from everything in the world. It is always on my mind anywhere I go. The flowers and the signs I see on the street, the colors, and patterns... I believe it is very important to be always looking and open your eyes to the world around you. Always creating in your mind. Making it part of your world and yourself. Also, I love browsing department store websites like Bergdorf Goodman to check out what is trending.

V: This question might be something similar to the previous question since many designers are inspired by other forms of art. What are your favorite works of art?

M: This is a difficult question. Of course the works from Rococo and Baroque period. Impressionism is another big inspiration for me. Like Monet’s Water Lilies...

V: Impressionism influence is certainly visible in your color choices!

M: Yes! I also love Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School works.

V: I see that nature is a big inspiration for you.

M: I love landscapes. Hudson River School’s works allow you to envision the world differently from what you usually see. Pop and surreal Japanese artists are also a huge inspiration for me like Aya Takano.

Aya Takano, EARTH 


V: Your designs always have this strong and beautiful sense of hope, like a beautiful dream within reach. What does “hope” mean to you?

M: It is difficult to define hope… To me, hope is something that is very positive, something that makes you look forward to -brings you out of a dark place. It is something that I hope to achieve with my designs.

V: My favorite work is probably the Classical Music inspired dress. I absolutely loved how you portrayed the cascade of notes on the sheet music and the dynamic of sound in the dress. I feel as if I can hear the legato and staccato of the dress in the wider and shorter ruffles. There was a cathartic feeling as the drapes finally “burst” into the beautiful long train, just like the climax of a musical piece. Did you have a specific musical piece in mind while you were designing this dress? Or the music that you listened to a lot during the creation of this dress?

M: I listened to lots of different music. Beethoven's 5th Symphony and Chopin… I want to say that Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major was important in the creation of the dress. The notes repeating itself, I felt it evokes a sense of homecoming.

V: Could you expand on the homecoming aspect?

M: Sure, I felt that notes arrived home after the crescendo of building up to finally all come together. Becoming one...


Merry Wu's Classical Music Wedding Dress


V: What is your favorite work you created?

M: Hmm, I think it is this silk bustier. I was doubting myself during the time because it was not something I considered as “my style.” But I learned lots of new techniques while creating it. The experience ended up being memorable and a favorite work I created yet!


V: Your Cloud dress garnered lots of interest and even won the FIT’s Future of Fashion 2016 People’s Choice Award. It certainly is a magical dress! Can you share some of the processes of design and creation?

M: There is a very funny story for the dress. It was the time of my senior thesis, the dress I was working on was not coming together as what I originally envisioned. I felt a strong desire to change the design despite everyone’s advice against it. It was just 3 weeks before judging. But once the idea was in my mind, I couldn’t let it go. I did not sleep, took all the fabric, hand-dyed them, and remade the dress in 3 weeks. The result was something that I always wanted to make. My professor was astonished by my sheer will and lack of sleep, haha.

Merry Wu's Cloud Dress Photographed by Slaven Vlasic

V: Your color palette consists of dreamy and magical blues and violets. Is there a specific reason for these color choices?

M: Softer and less saturated colors have a sense of romance and sophistication to me. Some think pastel colors are too young, but I think it is the designer’s job to take something that has a certain opinion and make it into something fresh and elegant.

V: What are the differences between creating your own work and designing under a company? How do you manage your time to continue working on your couture?

M: It is definitely very different. In the industry, it is of the utmost importance to sell and follow the trend. You have to also follow the customer’s style and the company’s fashion sense that may not correlate with your own. Understanding the market and price point is important. And reminding yourself that not all eveningwear can be couture. You need to negotiate with the fabric. Also, you are designing for someone else’s vision. But I think it also allows me to look at things that I couldn’t think of. It is challenging, but a creative step out of the box.


V: I really enjoyed your Avant-Garde: Bonds concepts a lot. The human connection shown through literal bonds and ties, and a single thread coming together to hold a big rope. It feels very different from your usual designs, a little darker with a sense of surrealism. Can we expect any Avant-Garde designs in one of your future concepts?

M: I find that the Avant-Garde concept is very personal. It means something different to everyone. Avant-Garde is fun to design, but creating garments with it is limiting because of the resources that it requires. I don’t think I will be creating any Avant-Garde concept garments anytime soon.

V: What is a concept you would like to try if there’s no limitation?

M: If there is no limit, 3D print for textiles. Technology is a big part of the fashion industry and I think it is important to look out what you can create with the new technologies. 3D printing would be still very couture; you can print, cut, and mold yourself after the parts are created by the machines.