Today, few people associate Vera Wang with anything other than impeccable wedding dresses. However, her career did not begin in the world of fashion. Discover the amazing story of a hard-working woman who could have easily become a figure skating star rather than the ruler of a fashion empire.
Vera Wang was born in New York to a family of immigrants who came from China in the early 1940s. Her mother Florence worked as a translator at the United Nations, and her father Chen Ching owned a pharmaceutical company. Vera’s childhood can be called fully privileged: she grew up on Park Avenue, in one of Manhattan’s buildings, and then her parents helped her get a prestigious education at an elite school. In her second year, Wang studied for a while in Paris at the Sorbonne, but returned to the United States for a degree in art history.
As a child, she was predicted to have a dizzying career in sports – from the age of 6, the girl practiced figure skating professionally. However, she did not realize her Olympic ambitions. In 1968 Vera and her partner James Stuart took the 5th place at the championships of the United States in the junior category, but the pair still did not get into the Olympic team of the games in Grenoble. Then Vera decided to end her sports career. This decision changed her life by 180 degrees.
In the 1970s, her career changed drastically. At the age of 23, Vera was accepted as an editor in the American edition of “Vogue”. At that moment she was the youngest fashion editor in the history of the magazine. However, Vera could not be called a fashion novice: her mother often went to shows and always took her daughter with her. Vera worked as an editor for 15 years – writing about fashion trends and discovering new names in the design world. And in 1987, she was able to prove herself on that path as well – she took a position as design director at Ralph Lauren fashion house. There she worked for two years and during this time she managed to release 13 collections of accessories.
As is often the case, the thought of starting her own business was suggested to Vera by life itself, or more precisely, the problems she unexpectedly faced. In 1989, Wang became engaged to her old friend Arthur Becker. While searching for a wedding dress, she realized that no creation matched her ideas of how she wanted to look on her wedding cake. In addition, the boutiques did not offer anything for women of a mature age – Vera was approaching forty at that moment. All the outfits she saw were too infantile – with lots of frills and lace. None of what she saw was simple, elegant or even remotely sexy. So Vera created her own dress design and asked a seamstress to make her a glamorous $10,000 wedding dress.
These wedding adventures led her to believe that she was not the only one who faced such a problem before her wedding. Driven by this conviction, the following year she opened her own wedding dress boutique in the prestigious Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue. At first, she sold dresses from prominent designers such as Guy Laroche and Christian Dior. In the following years, she honed her modeling skills and eventually released her own in-house collection of tasteful bridal creations.
Over the years, Vera Wang has created many iconic creations for famous brides: Avril Lavigne, Victoria Beckham, Sharon Stone, Kim Kardashian, Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump, among others, have all taken their wedding vows in her needlework. This list is far from complete.
In 1997, Wang had a presence everywhere. She dressed the celebrities present at such high-profile events as the inauguration night for Bill Clinton’s re-election and the Golden Globes and Academy Awards galas. Her creations have been worn by numerous celebrities on the red carpet, including Sofía Vergara and Zendaya at the Emmy Awards, as well as Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis at the Academy Awards.
Vera hasn’t completely said goodbye to sports either. In addition to her wedding line, she began designing costumes for figure skaters. They have featured Michelle Kwan, Nancy Kerrigan, and Evan Lysacek, among others. The designer also developed the costume worn by the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders. In 2005, Wang received a Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) award and was named Designer of the Year, and in 2009, she was honored with an award for her contributions to the skating apparel industry.
Here’s a look at how Vera Wang went from a wedding dress boutique to an entire fashion empire at a dizzying pace. Wang has even become part of pop culture – her character has appeared in many iconic movies and TV series as a symbol of bridal fashion. Let’s mention here “Sex in the City”, “Ugly Betty”, “Presidential Poker” or “Wedding Wars”. However, Vera does not intend to stop there. “Success is not in the final result, but in what you learn along the way,” she said in an interview and it seems to be her main motto in life, thanks to which she gets better and better every year.
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