Women's History History - Vera Wang
Born on June 27, 1949 in New York City to wealthy Chinese immigrants, Vera Wang has been an achiever from a young age. She attended the Chapin School and the American School of Ballet. During her teen years she competed in figure skating and participated in the 1968 and 1969 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships, with her pairs partner James Stuart.
Figure skating led to Wang’s interest in fashion. “I've been designing since I was 8. I started sketching dresses I could wear when skating,” she relates. In 1971 she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. After failing to make the U.S. Olympic team, Wang gave up figure skating and went to work for Vogue magazine. She was promoted quickly at Vogue, making senior fashion editor within one year, at the age of 23. She held this position for 15 years.
Wang left Vogue in 1987 when she did not get awarded the position of editor-in-chief. She moved to Ralph Lauren where she became design director for accessories. In 1989, Wang wed longtime boyfriend Arthur Becker. Frustrated by the limited selection of bridal wear, she designed her own gown and commissioned a dressmaker to tailor it at a cost of $10,000. The following year she opened her own bridal boutique in the upscale Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue in New York City. While developing her own design skills, Wang at first sold lavish gowns created by famed designers. Eventually however, she launched her own collection and became known for her sophisticated style, blending modern design with traditional elegance.
Wang expanded her line to evening dresses and received international attention for the costume she designed for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in the 1994 Olympics. Wang has acquired a large following, particularly among Hollywood celebrities. Over the years her business has continued to grow and now includes lingerie, jewelry and products for the home. She continues to live in New York City with her husband and two daughters.