Designer for Panoply and Studio 17
Jay Reynolds created his first sequin gowns at the mere age of 13, when he fashioned costumes for his traveling magic show, performing at parties and area malls. By college, Jay was running his own costume shop. He entered the pageant world while studying law creating glamorous gowns for Miss Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
But, Jay’s first collection was the one that made heads turn and landed him in major retail stores across the nation – “Trash Bag Dresses.” At the time, he was involved with a local fashion school and was invited to participate in a benefit featuring “poor quality” designs. Jay’s interpretation was to create a collection of Dior inspired ball gowns in camouflage and heavy black plastic. His success at the benefit, not only launched him into retail stores, but he also began designing for names like Sandra Bullock, Kristin Dunst, Kristie Alley, RuPaul, and was the chosen designer for the gowns worn by athletes during the Gold Medal Ceremonies at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
While household designer names like Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld have influenced Jay’s creative process over the years, Middle Eastern designers Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad currently inspire him. Their use of sheer, metallic laces and heavy beading have carried over into some of Jay’s designs in House of Wu’s Panoply collection. He draws his color palette from nature – vibrant colors from tropical fish, parrot feathers or the rise and fall of the sun. Material preference changes along with the fashion industry; chiffon is his new favorite, which recently replaced charmeuse.
“Fashion design is fluid, it moves,” said Jay. “Pastels become saturated in the market, we move to jewel tones, then to darker colors then back to pastels. You find that fashion has a 30-year cycle. What was in fashion in the 50's was in style in the 90's, and is coming back in style.”
lily tsai ko
Designer for Christina Wu and Christina Wu Occasions
Right from the start Lily Tsai Ko was fated to be a fashion designer. Growing up with a mother as a famous tailor, there was always a lot to see and be inspired by for the Christina Wu designer.
“When I was a little girl, I always loved to watch over her to see how she made patterns, cut the fabric and sewed these pieces into an amazing and beautiful dress,” said Lily.
This passion fueled her childhood aspiration of becoming a fashion designer. After attending Shih-Chien College for fashion design, Lily landed her dream job at a reputable high-end bridal company in Asia, Paris Bridal. At a mere 21 years old, Lily’s designs claimed national awards at competitions in Taiwan. In 1988, she moved to California where for 17 years she worked at Private Label of G. as the chief designer. Lily joined House of Wu in 2008.
Taking inspiration from fine art, couture costumes and cultural antiques, Lily’s designs merge an old world sophistication with a supremely feminine and modern sensibility. She is also influenced by an eclectic array of artists including Elie Saab, Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier and Romona Keveza.
“Bringing a stunning creation from nothing into an amazing gown which will become someone’s dream dress is the most exhilarating work,” said Lily. “I am infatuated with working with genuine silk, linen, satin and even leather.”
She heightens her couture aesthetic by following current sample creations and keeping a sharp eye on the fashion industry that may influence future designs. She never keeps any of her past designs as she is always moving forward.
When asked which collection is her favorite, Lily will respond “the next one.”
Designer for Tiffany Designs, Hannah S and Tiffany Princess
Liz Luo began her career studying portrait sketching at Shanghai Art & Design Academy, one of the most influential and best-known colleges of art and design in China. Upon graduating, Liz learned about an opportunity to work for the House of Wu from a friend employed at the manufacturer in Chaozhou. She began offering suggestions and ideas for dresses that fueled her passion for design. Eight years have past and Liz continues to create dresses for our most popular labels, Tiffany Designs and Hannah S.
When Liz is designing, she is inspired by her travels through Europe visiting markets and viewing international art and fashion shows. Every design focuses on flattering a real woman's body. Her knowledge of a garment’s proper fit and design, combined with her innate creative abilities, results in an effortless and wearable line that reflect the kind of woman she is herself; strong, sexy, fun, and fearless.
The beadwork and embroidery on her dresses are her original design combinations and is part of the process that she enjoys the most. Liz spends time perusing markets for material and then scatters various beads and embellishments on tables mixing and matching until a new pattern concept comes to fruition. Over the years, she has honed her skills as a fashion designer learning to balance modern designs with traditional elegance for girls looking for the perfect prom or special occasion dress.
Her favorites styles are the mermaid gowns in Tiffany Designs, specifically Style 16011 from the Spring 2014 Collection with its lace-applique tulle over the charmeuse sating combined with the stone and sequin work throughout the bodice. She is also enamored with Style 61118 as it has impressive large stones on the bodice and waist belt that she created using a three point star pattern.
“It brings me so much happiness designing these beautiful and elegant dresses for young girls,” said Liz. “My favorites are the girls who are going to their very first prom and are so excited to find that very dress that they have dreamed about, the one that will make heads turn and garner compliments from her friends.”