Vera Wang – the wedding dress designer on everybody’s lips

Vera Wang wedding dresses are synonymous with style and sophistication. An iconic designer for many stars including Mariah Carey, Cate Blanchett, Uma Thurman and Posh spice, her bridal wear has hit the headlines again in 2011 after designing Kim Kardashian’s wedding dress and 2 evening gowns. Here we profile the designer and her rise to fame.

A native New Yorker, Vera Wang was born on June 27, 1949, to Chinese parents who had fled the Communist revolution. She had originally dreamed of being an Olympic figure skater, but when she did not make the team in 1968, she went to the Sorbonne, in Paris and to Sarah Lawrence College in the USA, to study. She has a BA in Liberal Arts.

In 1970, on graduating, Vera became the youngest editor ever at Vogue magazine. She remained there for 17 years till 1987.

When she left Vogue, she worked with Ralph LAUREN for 2 years. In 1990, she opened her own house on Madison Avenue, New York, designing bridal wear and evening gowns.

With the opening of her own flagship store at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City, Vera Wang began a sweeping makeover of the bridal industry. Today, the salon continues to showcase collections known for sophisticated drama, feminine detailing and a modern approach to bridal design.

In 1994, she started her own label.

In 2000, Vera Wang’s enthusiasm for couture fashion resulted in the launch of her highly acclaimed ready-to-wear collection. The Council of Fashion Designers of America honoured Vera Wang by naming her “Womenswear Designer of the Year” in 2005. Known for her nonchalant approach to style and luxury, Vera Wang’s ready-to-wear collections resonate with her signature layering, intricate draping and exquisite attention to detail.

The Vera Wang brand reflects her vision to create a lifestyle that goes beyone 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 brida collection in company-owned workrooms in the United States.

Collection timeline:

Spring/Summer 2003

Vera Wang presented her Spring/Summer 2003 collection at the New York Fashion Week in September 2002, which was greeted with aclaim.

Fall 2003

Vera Wang showed her Fall 2003 collectiion during New York Fashion Week in February 2003. It was a lovely Asian-tinged collection. She is very well known for her evening looks, but with this collection she has clearly been putting some thought into daywear. She opened with slim coats with an early 60′s elegance. Other coats were embellished with a glimmer of beads or origami-folded ribbons. Wang did her version of long and short sexy silk jersey dresses, including one strappy number she called “Bondage”. Wang has solved the problem of achieving glamour and sophistication without having old-fashioned or weirdly new.

Spring/Summer 2004

During New York Fashion Week in September 2003, Vera Wang showed her ready-to-wear collection for next Spring.
The show was full of understated separates and drop-dead gowns that are red-carpet ready. Her stunning jersey goddess dresses in rich green and brilliant red were the perfect foils to her diamond jewellery. She paired classic smocking with the most feminine tops and beautifully cut tuxedo trousers. A totally contemporary look that provided the perfect balance to her charming party dresses.

Fall Out from Jennifer Lopez Wedding Cancellation

Jennifer Lopez had told everyone that she was going to wear Vera Wang’s wedding dress, and Vera made and delivered a stunning creation. Jennifer did not pay for it, as she said the publicity Vera would get would bring in lots of business for her. However when Jennifer cancelled the wedding, Vera was left high and dry – no publicity, no payment – and the media reported that Jennifer had made a ritual burning of the gown, so Vera couldn’t even sell it to someone else. Vera is out by about $20,000.

Fall/Winter 2004

Vera’s Fall collection was shown during New York Fashion Week in February 2004. Although her daywear is coming on strong, Vera is well-known for her bridal gowns and her beautiful evening dresses suitable for the Oscars and other red carpet occasions. This season she shaped her chiffon confections with bias cuts and hand-sewn beading or ruffles, accessorizing with pieces from her own line of diamond jewelery.

Spring/Summer 2005

During New York Fashion Week in September 2004, Vera Wang presented her Spring collection. The collection was full of lovely dresses and skirts with fine detail and delicately luxurious fabrics. She used crepe de chine, georgette and charmeuse, muted gold lame, brocades, fuzzy cashmere and wafer-thin knits. Scatterings of sequins and beads reminded us of her wedding dresses, but Wang is now strong right into everyday life.

Spring 2006

After winning the CFDA award Vera Wang’s resort collection combined the American sensibility of Claire McCardell with the vibrant palette of Matisse and earned raves from buyers and editors alike. She continued that momentum by introducing a collection in a similar vein for spring. This time, she injected a new, raw edge into the formula, courtesy of the HBO frontier drama Deadwood. “The idea was to do primitive,” said Wang backstage. “Matisse’s models dressed not unlike the female characters on that show.”

Spring 2007

For Spring 2007 there was a new balletic quality to the clothes and Vera Wang played with transparency, a big spring motif, by encasing the lower half of a dress in a bubble of tulle, shrouding a sequinned camisole with net, and showing cropped chiffon pants under tunics. She also worked layers, tweaking, for instance, dressed-up gold brocade by tossing a black cotton chemise over it.

Spring 2008

For Spring inspiration, Vera Wang looked to ancient Rome — an apt metaphor, some might say, for modern-day New York. Considered to be one of the most intellectual of American designers, what got her going was probably less the similarities between the two societies than the fluid ease of the earlier epoch’s clothes — not to mention the gilt and bullion. Either way, this finely wrought collection deserved plenty of praise.

Spring 2009

Vera Wang’s Spring collection in 2009 was as artsy as ever, but, inspired by the proto-pop French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the designer expanded on the soft-focus romance she’s known for to embrace a gutsier kind of chic.

Spring 2010

Crystal necklaces, densely embroidered necklines, tulle and net overlays — all the Vera signatures marked Vera Wang’s ready-to-wear Spring 2010 collection. But something was different – with a sense of ease, or a dressed-down casualness that looked new. It came across early on thanks to a loose-fitting black crepe de chine jumpsuit topped by an incredible beaded spiderweb necklace, and it continued throughout the show via the biker shorts that she paired with everything from a basketball tee and organza skirt combo to a metallic gauze halter tank and poufy ballerina skirt.

Fast forward to 2011 and Vera Wang designs Kim Kardashian’s wedding dress and 2 evening gowns.

Edited highlights & images from:

Vera Wang

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