Birthplace: New York City, New York
As a child, Vera Wang was interested in ice skating and art and she wanted to attend an art school, but her father wanted her to choose a more lucrative career. Following her father's advice, Wang attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she received her bachelor of arts in liberal arts. After college, Wang worked as an editor for Vogue magazine for seventeen years, and then as a design director for Ralph Lauren for two years.
Wang's first exposure to the bridal and evening-wear market came during her search for a bridal gown for her own wedding. Frustrated with the selection of gowns targeted toward maidenly brides, she gave up her search and commissioned a dressmaker. Realizing there was a target market that was not being reached, six months later she established Vera Wang Bridal House, Ltd., a retail house for bridal gowns. Wang was fortunate to obtain money to finance her business from her family. She located her retail business at the Carlyle Hotel temporarily until her Madison Avenue boutique was finished. In 1990 Wang opened her doors for business featuring contemporary bridal labels, including her own line, ranging in price at that time from $1,200 to $4,000, as well as custom-order evening gowns averaging $10,000 and up.
Wang's use of "illusion" in costumes inspired her to incorporate similar features in her bridal gowns. Her simple silhouettes feature complex constructions. The dresses are pieces of architecture, structured like buildings,
Vera Wang: The understated designs of Vera Wang have redefined contemporary bridal gowns. The elegant gowns feature luxurious fabrics, simple silhouettes, and clean style lines instead of embellished surfaces.
appearing very sleek with clean lines, deceiving the viewer of the complexity beneath. The sophisticated and simple silhouettes Wang developed revolutionized the bridal industry.
In 1992 and 1993 Wang ventured into the lower price point market by offering ready-to-wear bridal gowns and evening wear. She also ventured into costume design in 1994 when she designed Nancy Kerrigan's outfit for the Winter Olympics. Wang's love and talent for ice skating inspired her to make an artistic contribution to the sport.
Wang continued to expand her business in 1995 by adding bridesmaid dresses in crepe-back satin and matte jersey in simple silhouettes and contemporary colors. The line was the antithesis of typical bridesmaid dresses, which are impractical and cannot be worn again. In 1997 Wang joined shoe manufacturer Rossimoda, an Italian manufacturer, to develop a shoe line. Wang considers her shoes "cosmetic footwear," believing that her shoes should complement her dresses, continuing the same simple silhouette.
In addition to her creative use of fabric, color, and silhouette, Wang contributes her success to her customer service strategies. After a dress is delivered to the client, a stylist is assigned to advise the future bride on any accessories to complement the gown. The consultant may even be asked to advise on other aspects of the wedding such as flowers or the ceremony. Wang's creations can be seen at I. Magnin, Marshall Field's, Woodward and Lothrop, and her Madison Avenue shop. Website: http://www.verawang.com
Burns, Veronica, and Elizabeth M. Sporkin. "A Designing Women." People Weekly
35 (July 8, 1991): 65. Lorusso, Maryann. "Retracing Her Steps." Footwear News (November 30, 1998): 4S, 1.
Milbank, Caroline Rennolds. New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989. Sample, Ann. "Designer to the Stars—Vera Wang." Available from Women to Watch, http://www.womenswire.com
Was this article helpful?