Wang in 2007
|Born||(1949-06-27) June 27, 1949
New York City, New York, U.S.
(m. 1989; separated 2012)
|Awards||CFDA’s womenswear designer of the year, 2005; AndrÃ© Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award|
|Labels||Vera Ellen Wang|
I was the girl who nobody thought would ever get married. I was going to be a fashion nun the rest of my life. There are generations of them, those fashion nuns, living, eating, breathing clothes.
People get very trapped where they are. When they hear ‘fashion’ they get intimidated, particularly at the upper end because it’s so elitist.
Let’s be realistic, how many people are buying a $2,000 skirt? I love to design things that people can actually buy. I’m staggered by what a boot costs today.
My mother is the reason I’m in fashion. She worshiped it. Unfortunately, she infected me.
I’m not really a girl who likes to go out to lunch or cocktails or store openings.
I am not the sort of woman who would wear high heels with a bathing suit. Let’s get that straight right now.
All those years of skating and dancing have carried over. I can’t design anything without thinking of how a woman’s body will look and move when she’s wearing it.
I started at the very highest level so the upper end is something I know very well. I know it instinctively. But all the years I was designing, it frustrated me that I could reach so few women.
It’s a remarkable exercise to sit and look at your own work over the years.
I’ve always tried to push myself technically and to push myself visually. That’s been part of the journey.
I love sportswear in my own weird way. Fashion is such a personal journey for me. I’m much more of a girl that’s a T-shirt, legging, layering kind of thing, and outerwear.
It’s hard to juggle being a businessperson with being a creative person. You have to organize yourself – PR needs me for PR, and the licensing division needs me for licensing, the bridal people need me for bridal.
I don’t live through my kids. But I do know what will happen in life, and I just want them well prepared.
Fashion offers no greater challenge than finding what works for night without looking like you are wearing a costume.
Things that came before, people and things and experiences – that does mean something to me. It doesn’t mean I don’t embrace the new, but I don’t forget the past, either.
Design is about point of view, and there should be some sort of woman or lifestyle or attitude in one’s head as a designer.
It takes tremendous will to compete in any athletic endeavor, so it meant going to bed early and getting my homework done in advance. I had to sacrifice things, like a social life, to be a skater at 15. But I loved skating so much that it was worth everything to me.
Just because you’re from a city ten miles outside of St. Paul. It doesn’t mean you don’t read magazines, or the incredible Internet, and what’s going on in the world. I never, ever take a client, or women, for granted.
My evening really begins when I take a long, hot bath. I light a candle, and I turn on the news and try to catch up. It’s when I can breathe from the day to the night, and that means a lot to me.
There was no relationship between a wedding dress and fashion. There was no good taste, either. I realized that I could make an impression in terms of changing and readdressing the whole industry of bridal.
It’s for all the women who embrace my aesthetic, but can’t afford a Vera Wang dress. If women can get anything out of it – a little bit of me or a lot of me, that’s what’s important.
I hate phones. All businesses are personal businesses, and I always try my best to get back to people, but sometimes the barrage of calls is so enormous that if I just answered calls I would do nothing else.
The key is falling in love with something, anything. If your heart’s attached to it, then your mind will be attached to it.
The funny thing is that I’m the girl who no one sees at the beach. Ask anyone who’s traveled with me. Normally, I’m in so many layers, I look like Lawrence of Arabia!
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.
Fashion to me has become very disposable; I wanted to get back to craft, to clothes that could last.
Figure skating has been a great influence for me. I took dance at the School of American Ballet, which helped my own skating. And whether you are a skater or a dancer, without sounding narcissistic, it is all about looking in the mirror.
To me, eyewear goes way beyond being a prescription. It’s like makeup. It’s the most incredible accessory. The shape of a frame or the color of lenses can change your whole appearance.
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. People get very trapped where they are.
Don’t be afraid to take time to learn. It’s good to work for other people. I worked for others for 20 years. They paid me to learn.
Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way.
I wear Rick Owens T-shirts to bed. They are like my thermals, since I sleep with the room at near freezing temperatures, like a meat locker.
If I were to say at any point that I feel really confident or really in control, that would be a mistake. Because I don’t. I always see where I didn’t do things the right way.
It is horrible to say, but I was stigmatized by being a bridal designer for a long time. I am amazed I have been able to move beyond it. I had really all but given up trying, but I did it because it was my lifelong dream.
My closet is organized by tops, pants, and outerwear, but not a lot of dresses. Gowns are in another room because I don’t often dress formally, even though I design gowns. Like most designers, I have a uniform, and mine is a legging.
They never ask the celebrities why they don’t wear their own clothes on the red carpet.
When I decided to get married at 40, I couldn’t find a dress with the modernity or sophistication I wanted. That’s when I saw the opportunity for a wedding gown business.
I love to design things that people can actually buy. I’m staggered by what a boot costs today.
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.
The great thing about having a pool in L.A. is that I can use it year-round. And since I’ve always been an athlete, staying fit is very important.
I make things of my own that aren’t that glam, but I’m not known for that, which has always been a bit of a frustration for me.
I’m only waiting for Lindsay Lohan’s fashion collection to come out. Ten years from now, there may be no real designers left.
I always see where I didn’t do things the right way. I only see the heavy lifting. That’s a bit of my wisdom, if you want to call it that.
Even the most understated ceremony involves a certain respect for ritual and pageantry. No one plays more of a significant role than the bride’s attendants.
I’ve been designing since I was 8. I started sketching dresses I could wear when skating. I was always involved in all aspects of skating, not just the technique, the choreography, the music, but the visual aspects, too – what I should wear.
My bedroom is my sanctuary. It’s like a refuge, and it’s where I do a fair amount of designing – at least conceptually, if not literally.
My mother was extremely controlled, sort of flawless. And I always tend to be a bit more hippie.
I do think I know more about clothes than any 500 designers, because there’s nothing like wearing them. You buy them, you study them, and you start to understand how they’re crafted.
I wanted to define the vocabulary of a wedding both visually and intellectually. The book is about more than weddings or wedding dresses. It’s a metaphor for women’s lives, their creativity.
Brides today are increasingly sensitive to the tastes, feelings and finances of their attendants.
When I design a wedding dress with a bustle, it has to be one the bride can dance in. I love the idea that something is practical and still looks great.
Although in skating you compete with other people, anyone who achieves a certain level of success is first and foremost competing against themselves. And for me, the idea that I could always do better, learn more, learn faster, is something that came from skating.
As the mother of two daughters, I have great respect for women. And I don’t ever want to lose that.
New York for me is about work. If L.A. were to become a West Coast version of that, I’d shoot myself. The climate, the lifestyle – it really fits as the yin to my New York yang.
I work with structure, but I go outside the box and give it my own spin. I adore the challenge of creating truly modern clothes – where a woman’s personality and sense of style are realized.
When you have a passion for something then you tend not only to be better at it, but you work harder at it too.
I see myself as a true modernist. Even when I do a traditional gown, I give it a modern twist. I go to the past for research. I need to know what came before so I can break the rules.
Although in skating you compete with other people, anyone who achieves a certain level of success is first and foremost competing against themselves. And for me the idea that I could always do better, learn more, learn faster, is something that came from skating. But I carried that with me for the rest of my life.
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.
I was an art history major, but never specifically contemporary. I would say where I really stopped were the abstract expressionists in the New York school.
I do speak Mandarin, and I also relate to the hunger that China has for culture and architecture and style.
Design is about point of view, and there should be some sort of woman or lifestyle or attitude in one’s head as a designer. So my being able to reach the masses was something that meant a great deal to me – especially for women who could never wear Vera Wang.