Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Living Legend - Vera Wang

I remember walking up Third Avenue near 48th. Street here in New York (in the early 90's), past the pink stained mammoth marble structure on the Westside of the street. Somewhat across from Smith and Wollensky's steakhouse. It was just called 'Wang'. Referred to as 'the WANG Building'. Everyone knew it, standing firmly planted like a force to be reckoned with, proud and defiant. It is gone now, at least the marble slab bearing its name.

For those who remember and took note, 'WANG' then was the leading competitor in the computer world.
It has since been replaced by the beloved Apple (home of the iPad, iTouch, iPhone, iBet, iGive-in, iTunes and everything else). There too was Dell, HP all the rest.

Long before there were 'campuses', with espresso makers, and Razor scooters whipping around the office, and think tanks and war rooms where 'on the spot' ideas were hashed out, and no one ever looked at you like you were crazy. WANG was good stuff. 'WANG' WAS computers. As genetics, heritage and vision would predict, standing just as proud, defiant and strong as that slab of marble, once bearing her name is Vera Wang. It was her father who owned the company.

I enjoy hearing the story of her days at Ralph Lauren, as a design director when Vera would collect her paychecks months upon months on end, without cashing any of them, just because she didn't have to. That is 'luxury'. Now years later, she continues luxury of another sort. It is exhibited in all the brands she produces wares for. Be it bridal, evening or ready to wear. Whether for her name sake brands, which continue to expand or Kohls, where the very details of her higher end products are carried through.

During my years at Ralph Lauren, I would often see Ms. Wang in the elevator, as her Vera Wang Maids showroom was in the same building on Madison Avenue. Across the street, the infamous Vera Wang Bridal Salon. Often she would smile softly, then gaze off deep in thought. Many times I became curious. What tuck detail was she so engrossed in? Was there a new hem, the was enchanted with? A lace discovered she couldn't wait to try? I so wanted to interrupt but I wouldn't let my curiosity get the best of me, for fear of her losing her 'stride'. Train of thought, perhaps. Lose her 'stride', never.

I celebrate Vera Wang, as a 'Living Legend'. For she has accomplished a great deal in a fairly short time. She made bridesmaids pretty again. She put 'design' and 'couture' in bridal and made it available on a wider scale. Off the rack no less.

Vera Wangs dresses have become the benchmark, the 'go to' for those newly engaged with their bursting bridal binders buried in the crooks of their armpits. The first stop of the 'must haves'.
You may not always buy one, but trying one one is part of the whole bridal experience. How much fun it must be for her daughters to have full access to her immediate closet, and those shops around the world who carry her multiple lines (Vera Wang Lavender, Celebration Dresses and Ready-to-Wear).

I suppose, while I was looking up admiring the tenacity of that marble structure on Third, Vera was looking up and to the future, envisioning another pink as well. It just happened to be tulle.

(portrait photo Departures Magazine, all others Vera

No comments: