In 1990 Vera Wang opened her first design house in the chic Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. It was a rapid climb to couture bridal wear stardom for Wang and she is arguably the only wedding dress designer whose work garners seasonal attention on the runways and in the fashion industry.
Quite simply, Vera Wang is synonymous with the lavish world of divine weddings, her name a true representation of fairy-tale wedding bliss. While her success in the bridal world is remarkable and her gowns a worldwide united dream of brides-to-be, there is much more to Vera Wang than weddings, in fact an entire empire.
Born in 1949 in New York City Wang was raised in an upper class household by her Chinese parents. At age six she began figure skating. She successfully competed in the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and was featured in Sports Illustrated in January,
1968. upon failing to make the united States Olympic Team Wang decided to take a break from skating and went to Paris.
Wang returned to the united States for school and graduated with a degree in Art History, but her sights remained set on fashion. American Vogue’s fashion director, Frances Stein, came into the Yves St. Laurent boutique in New York one afternoon, where Wang was working for the summer. Stein quickly saw the promise in Wang and told her to call Vogue for a job after graduation.
Wang leapt into a fifteen year stint at Vogue, including time as the Fashion Editor at age twenty three, making her one of the youngest Vogue editors in history. She described her time at Vogue as “The Harvard Business School of Fashion.”
The intensity of her career at Vogue became overwhelming and her desire to design and create made her yearn for a major life change. Wang took a two year leave of absence from Vogue and decided not to return. She instead took a position as Design Director for friend and mentor Ralph Lauren. Life slowed down and Vera had time for herself. She met her future husband and after an on-and-off relationship the pair got engaged in the late 1980’s. Vera’s search for the perfect bridal gown lasted three months, she gave up and recruited a dressmaker to make her own dreamy design. Wang’s impending path was set.
After a number of unsuccessful fertility treatments Wang quit her job at Ralph Lauren and her father decided it was time for her to start her own business and provided the four million dollars to finance her first boutique. A year later Wang and her husband adopted their first daughter, Cecilia and not long after a second daughter, Josephine.
“I wanted to escape from the ‘tiger mother’ syndrome. I had a bit of a breakdown and lots of self-doubt. I went to Paris, and found myself. I was looking for something else, something that was artistic and that I could use to express myself. I was immediately drawn to fashion.”
With the massive success that followed Wang’s first boutique came her desire for a much larger brand. She now has boutiques in several major cities including London, Tokyo and Sydney. The Vera Wang collection has evolved as much as her gowns have changed the wedding industry. Beginning with writing a book, Vera Wang on Weddings, Wang went on to create a massively successful RTW line, a fragrance line, jewellery, handbags and luggage, eyewear, shoes and a menswear line. Wang’s frustration at how few woman could actually afford to wear one of her dresses inspired her creation of the bridal line White by Vera, which is sold exclusively at David’s Bridal. Prices of the gowns range from $600–$1,400 providing a more affordable way to wear Vera’s designs.
Her reach into the home includes an immaculate collection of divine tabletop items, stationary, mattresses, linens and a partnership with FTD who carry a line of Vera Wang flowers. Future sights are set on a sports line in tribute to her time as an athlete.
Wang has dressed the crème de la crème of celebrities, political persons, Olympic skaters and the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad currently wear Vera Wang.
Vera may be considered the go-to haute couture wedding dress designer of our time, but she is also one of the most brilliant business woman of the twenty first century. She solely owns one hundred percent of her empire.
Vera Wang isn’t just for the bride-to-be, it’s for the dreamer, the fashionista, the chic business owner, the savvy homeowner. Wang’s collections are about a truly fabulous, complete and elite lifestyle.
LAST WORD : Vera Wang
…on the topic of women
“In the dream world of Matisse and the gritty reality of the American frontier, the diversity of women in our society offers the chance for greater exploration and even greater inspiration. I adore the challenge of creating truly modern clothes, where a woman’s personality and sense of self are revealed. I want people to see the dress, but focus on the woman. A woman is never sexier than when she is comfortable in her clothes.”
By: Shelia May – NICHE Magazine Spring 2013