Vera Wang, the queen of red-carpet dressing, didn’t go into the fashion business with stars in her eyes . She knew about its unglamorous side, the hard work and, especially, the risks. And there were plenty of doubts along the way.
But every time one person—and, she says, it really just takes one—understands what she’s trying to express with a certain design, she’s reminded of the reason why she became involved in fashion, and why she’s still in it: there’s an indefinable payoff that comes when she’s helped a woman look and feel her best.
Wang, 63, was honored for lifetime achievement by the Council of Fashion Designers of America on June, 2013 at its prestigious awards show, which is often called “the Oscars of fashion.”
“To all the women and men I have dressed, thank you for your trust,” she said after accepting the award from her mentor and former employer Ralph Lauren.
There’s rarely a Hollywood event or an A-list wedding where Wang’s name doesn’t come up. Her hit designs include the lavender skirt actress Sharon Stone paired with a Gap shirt at the Oscars in 1998 and Chelsea Clinton’s crystal-waistband wedding gown in 2010.
Wang also has two lower-priced lines . She’s developed a fragrance business and home-goods collection. And she has a branded flower bouquet business.
Wang wasn’t always sure this would be her path. She studied art history at Sarah Lawrence College and was a competitive figure skater in contention for a spot on the 1968 U.S. Olympic team. Her family wasn’t initially supportive of fashion as a career path, and although they had some financial means, they didn’t back her at first. So she went to work as an editor at Vogue, and then at Ralph Lauren, before launching her company in 1990 as a bridal brand. She earned fame and respect through hard work.
Her mentor described Wang as “a unique young woman filled with a rare passion for fashion.” “In all the years since, I have watched her drive, dedication and talent shape an entire world inspired by her own life—first as a bride, then as a wife and mother, but always as a strong and beautiful woman,” Lauren said.
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