*just missed her birthday by a couple of minutes…oh well, it’s never too late to acknowledge a talented designer.*
Born to affluent Chinese immigrants on June 27 1949 in New York City, New York, Vera Ellen Wang enjoyed a pampered childhood growing up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Known as one of the most prominent designer of bridal wear in North America, it might surprise some to know that Vera didn’t start her career designing.
Vera attended the elite Chapin School and the School of American Ballet. She competed professionally as a figure skater throughout her teens and along with her partner James Stuart, placed fifth in the junior pair’s competition in 1968 and 69. In 1971 Vera graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in Art history, soon after graduation she began her career working in Vogue Magazine where she thrived and within a year at the tender age of 23 she became senior fashion editor. In 1987 after being with them for 15 years, Vera left Vogue to take a job as a design director of accessories at Ralph Lauren.
Vera’s career into the bridal industry was purely by chance or fate depending on your point of view. While shopping for her own wedding dress in 1989, Vera became extremely frustrated with the slim selection of existing bridal wear and instead sketched her own design and commissioned a dressmaker to tailor the elaborate gown at a cost of $10,000. Even Vera has to spend the big bucks for a Vera Wang original LOL. That following year with the some financial backing of her father, Vera opened her own bridal boutique in the upscale Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue i n New York City. Called The Vera Wang Bridal House, it catered mostly to socialites and celebrities and offered couture gowns by Guy Laroche, Arnold Scaasi, Carolina Herrera and Christian Dior. Eventually after honing her designing skills Vera launched her own collection of streamlined and sophisticated bridal wear.
Throughout her career Vera Wang has been honoured with a number of awards for her achievements including the Chinese American Planning Council’s Honoree of the Year Award in 1993, the Girl Scout Council’s Women of Distinction Award in 1994. That same year she was elected as a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and received international attention after designing a hand-beaded ensemble for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in which she wore during the Olympics. In 2005 the CFDA selected her as Womenswear Designer of the Year. Along with wedding gowns Vera Wang has created an elegant evening wear collection as well as Vera Wang Made to order, a collection of couture designs that are available exclusively at the Manhattan boutique, both are equally popular. Over the years her empire has grown to include; fragrances with the first one launching back in 2001 along with her wedding guide, lingerie, jewelry and a life style collection. In 2006, Vera Wang reached a deal with Kohl’s to produce a less expensive line of ready-to-wear collection exclusively to them called Simply Vera.
To date both her bridal and evening apparel are sold at over 55 upscale retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neman Marcus. Vera has acquired a huge following especially from those in Hollywood, her creations are frequently worn to film premiers and award ceremonies by a number of high-profile actresses.
Vera still lives in New York City with her husband, businessmen Arthur Becker and her two daughters.