- A native New Yorker who spent her career at the forefront of fashion, Vera Wang began a sweeping makeover of the bridal industry in 1990 with the opening of her flagship salon at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City.
- 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.
- She left Vogue to fulfil a dream: instead of writing about designers, she wanted to become one of them.
- As a matter fact, in 1987, her wish came true when she was appointed as a design director at the fashion house of Ralph Lauren.
- In 1989, Vera was around 40 years old and while she was planning her wedding to Arthur Becker, she found herself confounded by the lack of bridal gowns for older and more mature brides. As she explained, everywhere she went, the dresses were overdone with too many frills and lace; nothing she found was simple, elegant, or even remotely sexy. As a consequence, she ended up hiring a dressmaker to create a custom-made gown, which ended up costing $10,000.
Vera Wang was born on June 27, 1949, in New York City. A former figure skater, Wang was senior fashion editor at Vogue for 15 years and then a design director for Ralph Lauren. She designed her own wedding dress, then opened a bridal boutique and soon launched her own signature collection. Now hugely popular, she has a large Hollywood following and also designs lingerie, jewellery and home products.
Country of Origin
New York City
Sarah Lawrence college / University of Paris
First steps in entrepreneurship
Vera Wang set about designing her own gown, and ultimately built an illustrious career as the leading couture wedding dress designer. Today, her name is synonymous with bridal fashion and there are Vera Wang Bride boutiques all over the world.
Difficulties you faced in setting up
At the time, the bridal world was filled with very stereotypical looks with sequins, lacy bits, fancy puffed sleeves and full, stiff and poufy skirts. Wang designed her first wedding gown for a profile in Vogue magazine. The gown was made from white Lafitte duchesse satin, it had black silk velvet bows at the wrist and hemline. Thus, this design was considered as totally minimalistic, very tailored, very severe, and very architectural.
Past failures if any
Her initial dream of a career as an Olympic figure skater never took off and a rejection from Vogue followed some years later.
Vera is a great example of someone who has shifted expectations to try something new and that’s pretty great in itself. In an interview with The Cut Vera the issue of failure was addressed head on, stating: “Don’t be afraid of failing. I think not trying is worse than failing. Have the courage to try. Otherwise, what are we here for?”
How did you manage to succeed?
Her childhood dream was to become an Olympic figure skater. She trained hard for it but alas, it was not to be. That was her first heartbreak. While this gave her considerable unhappiness, she refused to be halted in her pursuit for prominence. Soon, she found herself driven to the world of creative allure clothes.
At 24, her lifestyle was spinning out of control as an editor, and her love for designing clothes had taken the proverbial backseat. Unable to quite take the plunge, Vera finally quit the magazine when she was rejected for the position of Vogue’s editor-in-chief. Stung and bruised, she did not let the sad turn of events dampen her spirits. Her fame had already reached the right ears, and soon she found herself designing accessories for Ralph Lauren – finally venting out all her bottled up creative energies. But the melancholic fact always stared her in the face – her name had failed to appear on the Olympic billboard and continued to elude its presence on the labels that she designed.
“You can’t go wrong with an all-white dessert,” said designer Vera Wang in one of her latest creations.
- Today, the salon continues to showcase collections known for sophisticated drama, feminine detailing and a modern approach to bridal design.
- The Vera Wang brand reflects her vision to create a lifestyle that goes beyond core bridal and ready-to-wear, and into publishing, fragrance, beauty, accessories and home. These collections are positioned at the highest end of the luxury market. Driven by artistic, modern and luxurious design and style, couture-like quality and a high level of customer service, Vera Wang’s collections hold impeccable customer appeal.
- Vera Wang collaborates with leading global partners, directly employs more than 200 people and manufactures the majority of its bridal collection in company-owned workrooms in the n the United States.
Personal Success tips
The sense of failure in Vera’s case wasn’t because she failed to succeed but because “I never really achieved the level that I wished.”
Having battled setbacks and emotional breakdowns, today, rooted firmly on her optimistic perseverance, she runs a billion-dollar industry. Life did come a full circle for this skating prodigy when she designed costumes for figure skaters like silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan (wore a Vera for the 1994 Olympics).
- “Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way”– Often we get so caught up on what we want in the future, that we forget to appreciate the journey that takes us there. Quality of life shouldn’t be measured by success, but instead by the lessons that you have learned along the way.
- “It’s hard to balance everything. It’s always challenging”– In a world that constantly tells you that you should seek challenge, you can be left with too much to balance and as a result place too much pressure on yourself. Be sure to try and fulfil your maximum potential, but recognize when you’re taking on too much and be sensible enough to not over-exert yourself.
- “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.”– While there is plenty of advice to tell you how to be confident, there is not enough telling you that’s okay if you don’t. If someone with as much control as Vera Wang admits to not being confident, then it’s perfectly fine for you to feel that way too.
- “I always see where I didn’t do things the right way.”– To better yourself you must learn from your mistakes, but first you must be able to see exactly what those mistakes were. It’s okay that you went wrong, but you should always focus on what you can do to make it right.
- “The key is falling in love with something, anything. If your heart’s attached to it, then your mind will be attached to it.” -Too often we are guilty of just settling. We don’t dislike something, but we don’t love it either, making forming attachments difficult. It becomes too easy for us to go through life half-heartedly, creating situations that are nothing more than mediocre. Make an effort to love everything that you do, and you will find passion comes naturally.
- “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.” – A career doesn’t just happen overnight, and often you will have to go through experiences that are not where you want to be for it to successfully develop. It’s easy to take work for granted, but it’s all part of learning and will make you the best version of yourself when you finally reach your end goal.