Chinese American Heroine: Vera Wang

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International Fashion Designer


Name in English: Vera Wang

Name in Chinese: 王薇薇

Name in Pinyin: Wáng Wēiwei

Gender: Female

Birth Year: 1949

Birth Place: New York City

Current location: New York City

Philanthropy: Yes

Profession (s): Fashion Designer

Education: BA, Art History, Sarah Lawrence College, 1971; undergraduate courses at the Sorbonne (University of Paris); Graduate Courses at Columbia University

Awards: 2006, Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award, Savannah College of Art and Design; 2005, Womenswear Designer of the Year, Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA); 1994, Girl Scout Council’s Woman of Distinction Award; 1993, Chinese American Planning Council’s Honoree of the Year Award;

Contribution (s): Vera Wang is one of the most prominent designers of bridal wear in America and is one of the best known fashion designers in the world.  She is best known for her sophisticated, youthful, and elegant collections, especially her bridal collections, that are widely admired and imitated.  She is the daughter of two Chinese immigrants, who fled China during World War Two to settle in New York City. She was born and raised in an affluent Manhattan neighborhood, known as the Upper East Side.  Her father worked as chair of a pharmaceutical company, and her mother as a translator for the United Nations.

Wang cites her mother as her main influence in fashion. She recalls her mother taking her to fashion shows in Paris as a child.  In 1971, Wang began her fashion career working at Vogue magazine. In less than a year, Wang was promoted to senior fashion editor at the age of 23 where she was in charge of fashion layouts, the very heart of the magazine. She left the magazine in 1987 to work as design director for accessories at Ralph Lauren.

Wang’s interest in bridal design was inspired by her dissatisfaction with the collections of existing bridal wear when she was looking for gowns for her own wedding in 1989.  She designed her own dress and had it made for $10,000.  She started her own bridal boutique in New York City in 1990, and eventually launched her own collection of bridal wear.

In 1994, Wang designed a figure skating ensemble for champion skater Nancy Kerrigan.  She also designed the skating ensembles of fellow champion skater, Michelle Kwan.  The distinctive outfits received national acclaim and recognition.  She has since designed a line of eveningwear, and a more affordable line called Simply Vera, in addition to her bridal collections.  Wang’s designs are worn by some of the most popular celebrities as well as some of the most influential women in the world today.

Wang’s prominence as a designer has led her to make several television and movie cameos. In 2006, she appeared as a guest judge on the hit show television show Project Runway. She has also appeared (playing herself) on the television shows Ugly BettyThe ApprenticeKeeping Up With The Kardashians, and the movies, First Daughter, and The September Issue.

Philanthropy: In 2009, Wang used her designs to make a charitable contribution via Jessica Moment and Sally Fowler’s San Francisco Bay Area Boutique. 100% of the profits of Wang’s designs go to a different charity each season.

Publications/Patents: 2001, Vera Wang on Weddings, Harper Collins

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