How early in your life did you become involved in fashion?
My mother loved clothes and as a child, I used to accompany her as she shopped Parisian and American couture. My career in fashion career started when I was twenty-two. I started at Vogue in 1972 and stayed for sixteen years, eventually becoming senior fashion editor. In 1988, I joined Ralph Lauren for two years as accessories design director. In 1990, I went out on my own, opening a salon in the Carlyle Hotel in New York City to showcase my inaugural bridal collection.
Why did you decide to become a bridal wear designer?
My idea for my business came to me as I was looking for my own wedding dress. I couldn’t find a wedding dress I liked. Unfortunately, at the time, there was nothing like I wanted – something modern and sensuous yet feminine and elegant. I realized other women were probably feeling the exact same way, which inspired my business concept. Soon after I launched the business, I got a lucky break: my friend Sharon Stone wore one of my gowns to the Oscars, which really put me on the map.
If you were to be inspired by different fashion styles of the last century, which decade would you identify with and appeals to you the most? Which designers have inspired you and which ones do you admire most?
I have particularly loved the 60’s into the 70’s, because I was living in Paris then. I really loved what Yves Saint Laurent did for women. He put women in men’s clothing. His vision of women was very free, but sophisticated. Then in the 80’s, I loved Armani and Chanel – Armani for its modernity and Chanel for its femininity. Their designs really represented two sides of the coin. Then from the 80’s into the 90’s, I became in love with the Japanese and still am today, from Yohji Yamamoto to Comme des Garçons to Junya Watanabe. I also love what Jill Sander was able to do, she took minimalism to a whole other level. And today, Prada and Marni have really made clothes about art and lifestyle, not just about art.
Are there any Oriental influences in your designs?
There is always an Asian influence in my designs, it’s inevitable. The Asian aesthetic is about grace and femininity. There is a sensuality and a sense of whimsy. So I am certainly influenced by the Japanese aesthetic from the past and present. No matter what the styling or the fit, I like women to look sensual and graceful.
What do you believe differentiates you from other designers?
I am very aware of the client and a woman’s body. I am fanatical about proportions and fit. I can work on proportions for days just to design the perfect bra to create a good bust line or the placement of a godet to form a beautiful line. I work with the proportion, fit, and weight to make the clothes feel balanced. Even my heavier clothes are very light constructions. Also, another hallmark of my designs is my painterly use of color.
You have really revolutionized the world of bridal fashion. How would you define a Vera Wang dress?
It’s really more about creating something that’s true to a woman’s style. There’s nothing more intimate than a wedding or evening gown. A wedding is a joyous event, and the bride’s dress should always reflect that.