Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wonderful Women Entrepreneurs: Vera Wang

March is Women's History Month. Because of this, I'm highlighting wonderful women entrepreneurs.

This week, it's all about Vera Wang.

The daughter of affluent Chinese immigrants, Vera Wang was born June 27, 1949 in New York City. She attended Chaplin School, the School of American Ballet and Sarah Lawrence College. Wang studied abroad briefly in Paris during her sophomore year but returned to the U.S. to complete her art history degree.

She graduated in 1971 and started working for Vogue magazine. In just a year, Wang was promoted to senior fashion editor, a title she held for 15 years. After she left Vogue in 1987, she worked as a design director for accessories at Ralph Lauren.

Wang married her longtime boyfriend but wasn't too happy with the slim selection of existing bridal wear. So, she decided to do something about it: She sketched her own design and commissioned a dressmaker to tailor an extravagant gown that cost $10,000. The next year, Wang opened her own bridal boutique with some financial backing from her father. The Vera Wang Bridal House originally offered couture gowns by designers such as Carolina Herrera and Christian Dior. Wang developed her fashion design skills over the next few years and ultimately launched her signature collection of streamlined and sophisticated bridal wear.

After designing a hand-beaded ensemble for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan during the 1994 Olympics, Wang received international attention. Since then, she has created an equally popular line of elegant evening wear and Vera Wang Made to Order, a collection of couture designs that are exclusively available at her Manhattan boutique. Her bridal and evening apparel can be found at over 55 upscale retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

Wang's fashions are often worn by many high-profile celebs like Charlize Theron, Meg Ryan and Halle Berry. In 2001, she launched her first fragrance and published a wedding guide. Her business has grown to include several more fragrances, bedding, shoes, eyewear, a bridal gown collection at David's Bridal and much more.

Her awards include the 1993 Chinese American Planning Council's Honoree of the Year Award and Womenswear Designer of the Year by Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 2005. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

"It's a remarkable exercise to sit and look at your own work over the years."
-Vera Wang

[Source; Photo Credit]

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