Vera Wang failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure-skating team. Then she became an editor at Vogue and was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. She began designing wedding gowns at age 40 and today is one of the premier designers in the fashion industry, with a business worth over $1 billion.
Wang graduated from The Chapin School in 1967, attended the University of Paris and earned a degree in art history from Sarah Lawrence College. Wang began figure skating at the age of six. While in high school, she trained with pairs partner James Stuart, and competed at the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She was featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd in the January 9, 1968 issue. When she failed to make the US Olympics team, she entered the fashion industry. Wang continues to enjoy skating, saying, “Skating is multidimensional”.
In 1968, Wang was presented as a debutante at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Wang has made wedding gowns for many well-known public figures, such as Chelsea Clinton, Karenna Gore, Ivanka Trump, Campbell Brown, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Victoria Beckham, Avril Lavigne, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Sharon Stone, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Hilary Duff, Uma Thurman, Holly Hunter, Kate Hudson, Khloe Kardashian and Kim Kardashian. Wang’s evening wear has also been worn by Michelle Obama.
She has designed costumes for figure skaters, including Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek. Silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan wore a unique design of Vera’s for the 1994 Olympics. She designed the two-piece uniforms currently worn by the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders.
On October 23, 2001, her book, Vera Wang on Weddings, was released. In June 2005, she won the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Womenswear Designer of the Year. On May 27, 2006, Wang was awarded the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Wang was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2009, and was honored for her contribution to the sport as a costume designer.
Twenty years after opening her first bridal boutique, Wang was awarded the Leadership in the Arts Award by the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association. She accepted the award on April 17, 2010 at Identities, the Harvard association’s annual charity fashion show.
Wang’s evening wear has been worn by stars at many red carpet events, including Viola Davis at the 2012 Academy Awards, Sandra Bullock at the Oscars in 2011 and Sofia Vergara at the 65th Emmy Awards.
She was honored with the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.