Bridal shoe biographyA Vera Wang creation is to the bridal industry what Jaguar is to the luxury car market—both are recognized immediately for their elegance and are unrivaled in beauty and distinction. In 1990, Vera Wang began designing wedding gowns in a small boutique in New York City. Less than a decade later, her business had grown into a retail empire worth an estimated $80 million, and had expanded to include not only one-of-a-kind gowns, but bridesmaid dresses, footwear, eveningwear, a signature fragrance, eyewear, and even fine china and crystal. Along the way, the Wang name came to mean top quality and originality. As the most respected name in bridalwear, and a rising star in eveningwear, Vera Wang's talent lies in her abiding respect for women and their desire to look their best.
Getting Her Start
Vera Wang, a former ballet dancer and ice skater, majored in art history at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. During college she spent one year abroad, studying at the famed Sorbonne in Paris, where she immersed herself in the country's culture and soaked up French fashion. After graduation in 1971, Wang was hired at Vogue magazine as an assistant. She quickly impressed her bosses and was named the magazine's youngest ever fashion editor in 1972, a post she held for the next fifteen years. Wang left Vogue to fulfill a dream: instead of writing about designers, she wanted to be one of them. In 1987, she got her wish when she was appointed a design director at the fashion house of Ralph Lauren (1939-).
In 1989, Wang was planning her wedding to Arthur Becker and was confounded by the lack of bridal gowns for older, more mature brides—she was forty at the time. Everywhere she went, the dresses were overdone with too many frills and lace; nothing she found was simple, elegant, or even remotely sexy. She ended up hiring a dressmaker to create a custom-made gown, which ended up costing $10,000. Despite the cost, Wang was happy with the dress and the wedding went off without a hitch. Her bridal adventures, however, got her thinking. Since she had such a difficult time finding the right dress, she was positive that other women had similar problems. Wang decided to open her own bridal salon, selling dresses from top designers around the world.
Vera Wang Bridal House at a Glance
With start-up funds of $4 million from her father Cheng Ching Wang, chairman of the internationally known U.S. Summit Corporation, Wang rented a two-story showroom and shop in March 1990. Wang used a quarter of her father's investment to redecorate the boutique, which was located on Madison Avenue in New York City. While the work was being finished, she and her right-hand man, Chet Hazzard, sold wedding gowns from a hotel suite. Hazzard had formerly worked at the Anne Klein design house. In September 1990, Vera Wang Bridal House Ltd. officially opened its doors. Wang's former colleagues at Vogue paid tribute to her with a six-page article, and soon prospective brides were flocking to the boutique. Wang's signature fragrance, Vera Wang, debuts and breaks sales records.
Wang gained international notice as a designer when she created skating outfits for American champion Nancy Kerrigan (1969-), who skated in both the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. This was a special triumph for Wang, who had skated competitively as a youth and had tried, but failed, to make the 1968 Olympic pairs team. In 2001, Wang commented to Vogue, "I felt as though my life had come full circle; I didn't make it to that level of competition, but my clothes did." Stepping outside bridal wear, Wang launched an evening gown collection in 1994, and by the following year her dresses were sought after by celebrities attending the
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