Intro

It’s unusual to find a woman who doesn’t have a hint of the bridal gene in her, yet fashion designer Vera Wang is just this person, and she has gone on to become the most famous bridal fashion designer of our age. Praised and highly respected for her stunning gowns and collections, Vera Wang is a name that is known and loved by all females who are looking for that special gown. Worn by big names like Kim Kardashian, Ivanka Trump, Chelsea Clinton, and Michelle Obama, Vera Wang and her collections took the world by storm and have turned many women’s dream day into a beautiful reality.

 

Life

Vera Wang was born on the 27th of June, 1949 in the busy city of New York. Both of her parents were born in China and come to the United States in the mid 40’s. Her mother was a sophisticated woman and worked as a translator for the United Nations, and her father, who was a graduate of MIT and Yanjing University, owned his own medicine company.

Vera Wang was always inspired by her mother and her perseverance in a male-dominated world. But, her mother encouraged her to be freer going and to be who she wanted to be, not what society expected of her at a young age. Wang states:

“My mother was extremely controlled, sort of flawless. And I always tend to be a bit more hippie,” she says. “She was a Tiger Mother. … But she really tried to encourage me to be who I was.”

It was because of this encouragement that at the age of just 8 years old, Vera Wang wanted to become a professional figure skater. She began training every day, with the hopes of making it to the Olympics. She states:

“I adored it as a sport. My father knew how to ice skate, which was very obscure because it was post WW2, and someone who is Chinese living in New York doesn’t normally know how to ice skate. I dedicated about thirteen years to skating, and it was an intense journey. I really got a sense of what line, proportion and length were, as well as looking at the body from 360 degrees and exploring choreography, costume, and music.”

Wang based her entire life and education around figure skating and had no plans to go into a career in fashion designing. However, all that changed when her education opened her eyes to what the world had to offer.

 

Education

Wang’s entire education was centered around her becoming a professional figure skater. After leaving high school, she went on to attend the University of Paris at the college of Sarah Lawrence where she studies a degree in art history. She states:

“I was trying to manage school and training for the Olympics and ended up not doing well at either. That was a big lesson in my life…My mother expected both.”

After attempting to get into the Olympics as a figure skater and failing to be selected, Wang was devastated. Basing her entire career, education, and life on a dream that didn’t come true was gut wrenching for the fashion designer. She had to move her focus to another passion, which took some time to figure out. Soon enough, she fell in love with fashion.

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, Vera Wang dedicated her entire life to studying and working her way up the fashion chain. She states:

“It’s a calling. Like being a musician. I mean, the hours of practice, the loneliness, the dedication. It was a very obsessive job for me… I’m in the middle of the Place de la Concorde, and I had a military jacket on with pins, tape, and clamps. I looked like a terrorist or something, and my father said, ‘Can’t you just comb your hair and put a dress on and come to dinner with me?’ I said no. And he said, ‘I don’t know why you want to do this,’ and I said, ‘I do.'”

Vera Wang was fortunate enough to pick her up and give her an internship where she worked 16 to 18 hour days running coffee, scheduling photo shoots, and learning everything she could about fashion. The internship ended up turning into a career as a fashion editor for Vogue, and eventually, she would leave there after 17 years and join Ralph Lauren.

But, through her education and career with other fashion houses, something was missing in Vera Wang’s life. It was then that she decided to break out and launch her own fashion label at 40 years of age.

 

Career

At the age of 40, Vera Wang decided to start her own fashion label. The choice was not an easy one as she was started her label later on in life and that intimidated her. It was, in fact, her very own wedding that inspired her to launch the Vera Wang label.

While Wang was still working as a design director at Ralph Lauren, she became frustrated meringues and sugary bridal dresses and wanted something that had a more modern antidote to it. She, therefore, designed her own bridal dress and hired a dressmaker to achieve that look and bring it to life. The gown was simple with white sequins.

It only took a year to launch her label after that, with the support and funding of her father and filled the bridal niche with chic looks. She states:

“I saw it as a foundation for a business I could make a difference in and as something that could lead to other businesses,” she says.

Vera Wang was fearless. She knew nothing about bridal wear when she launched the label and started off in a little store. However, her success came not because she was born for a career in bridal designing, but because she wasn’t. Her fresh take on bridal wear is what caught fashion lovers eyes, and in the year 2000, she launched her prêt-à-porter collection where she could finally express her own vision.

She’s won numerous awards for her collections and has since been worn by some of the biggest names in the celebrity and fashion industry. With stores all around the world, Vera Wang has expanded her billion dollar business and continues to aim higher and higher each day.

She is now focusing her career and her label on catering for all women on their special day. She states:

“I used to get tons of letters that said, “I’ll never get to wear you,” or “I’ll never get married in one of your dresses,” or “I’ll never have an evening gown like the one I saw on the red carpet.” I thought that was sad because you give your life to this and you end up reaching very few people. So that was a major goal for me—to be able to reach and encourage more women, to encourage them to express themselves and be what they want to be.”

Since then, Vera Wang has been working on bringing out collections that are beautiful in design and nature, modern and arty, but are affordable for all women to wear on their wedding day.

 

Collection

Vera Wang’s collections are unlike anything that has been seen before. Her bridal and evening range are modern, elegant, arty, and chic all combined. Women all around the world trip head over heels to wear the label on their wedding day.

Wang isn’t a big fan of colors and never has been. Her collections have always been more earthy tones and darker colors. She is a massive fan of black and believes that you can achieve more with a blank canvas color then throw too much at the person wearing it. She states:

“I don’t like bright colors. There must be a reason to do colors. You’ll be surprised but I work easier in dark colors, in black. Because there is some modernity to it, it helps the designer. Black is more abstract. You can see the shape and feel the texture better. All these colors, prints and details start to hurt your eyes. There are two sides of fashion for me: Architectural and decorative. Some designers are amazing decorators, but I believe more in pureness and architecture.”

Famous for her bridal and evening gowns, Vera Wang has recently been inspired in the past few years to start a ‘ready-to-wear’ clothing line. The challenge hasn’t come easy, as she doesn’t like to play it safe when it comes to her designs.

Many fashion critics believe that she should something put something simpler in her collections, but Vera Wang only designs from the heart. She states:

“It’s been challenging for me with my ready-to-wear line. Several reviewers have spoken about the length I go to dive off the deep end. Sometimes they say I’m afraid to just put out something plain.”

Her latest collection is inspired by the popular book series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and their use of a dystopian and totalitarian feel to the clothing.

 

Interesting Facts About Vera Wang

1. Vera Wang, before she became a famous fashion designer, was a competitive figure skater in her teenage years. This is where she came up with the inspiration to include leggings and embroidered tulle in her designs.

2. Vera Wang is unlike other fashion designers where she feels the need to get up in the early hours of the morning to start work. She loves her sleep, and not even her designs will stop her. She states: “I’m a late riser by my family’s standards. Sleeping is a luxury because since I was young, I woke up very early to go ice-skating. So I’m really not a morning girl…I need seven to eight hours of sleep. If I’m lucky, and it’s a weekend, I get 10.”

3. A typical day at the office for Wang involves her barely stepping foot in her own office. She states: “I’m never in my own office; it’s just a nice fantasy. But I’m a sports fanatic, so if there’s a tennis Grand Slam, I have that going on the TV in there nonstop. What I’m really doing is dealing with all the different lines of product we handle: from poring over china patterns to small leather goods at Kohls. I usually don’t take phone calls during the day. I like to be extremely flexible and make myself available, so I’m usually roaming around—my brain is on 360-degree roam.”

4. Designing clothes isn’t the only love she has. She loves to collect various items of clothing that intrigue her. She has a whole wardrobe at home full of clothes she’s never worn, just fell in love with. She states: “I collect clothes, and I’m everyone’s best client. I’ll go to uptown, downtown, wherever: Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey, Prada, Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons. I also shop in men’s stores because I like to play with men’s clothing. I know that sounds weird but I do.”

5. Vera Wang never sketches or comes up with new designs while at work. Instead, she sketches and designs her new clothing range and collections in the comforts of her own bed.

 

Awards

  • CFDA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year
  • Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award

Vera Wang, the women who never thought she’d be designing bridal gowns but instead racing across the ice as a figure skater, has firmly cemented herself as one of the greatest fashion designers of the modern age. With her chic and elegant looks in her bridal, evening, and ready-to-wear collections, Wang has brought a new vision of femininity and desire to women all around the world.