Vera Wang is really having a moment. Over July 4th weekend, Gwen Stefani got married in not one but two Vera Wang custom gowns. A few weeks earlier, she dressed Ariana Grande for her big day. And in between those two internet-breaking events, she threw herself a Page Six-worthy birthday party.
Brace yourself, this fashion icon is 72. And looks. Like. This.
Vera and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. And when I knew I’d be starting this newsletter, I called her first.
I wanted to talk to get her thoughts on the recent violent attacks against Asians… and, on a much lighter note, how she manages to look so damn good in her 70s.
But let’s start by talking about the industry that made her famous.
Here are excerpts from our hour-long conversation:
Alina Cho: Can we talk about weddings?
Vera Wang: The pandemic completely shut bridal down on any level. But I think the pent-up desire to get married has been building. They’re not where they were in 2019, but they're definitely coming back. The clients we take on, are the same clients we dress for Oscars, or Golden Globes, or the Emmys or the Grammys.
Alina Cho: When you saw Ariana [Grande, in a wedding dress you designed], how did you feel?
Vera Wang: I adore her. I adore her talent, I adore her sense of style, and I adore her as a businesswoman, as an artist. And she's a very joyful person, and I love that energy. It just made me so happy to see her happy.
Alina Cho: Isn't it hard to keep the secret?
Vera Wang: No, I'm scared, to be honest with you. You know, if you signed an NDA, that's an NDA and I frequently don't even know the date of the wedding, where it is, and we don't want to know. We've learned through 32 years that the less we know the better. Then the leaks don't come from our side.
[*Just after our discussion, Gwen Stefani announced she got married in Vera Wang — not one, but two custom dresses]
Alina Cho: I’m curious to know, from your perspective, when you saw the attacks against Asian Americans, what goes through your mind?
Vera Wang: Well, first of all, being Chinese American, I have just felt that so many Asians, of all descent, have made such contributions to wherever they live. They’ve raised families, they've worked hard, they've paid their taxes. I think part of Asian culture, try to behave, not make a fuss.
Alina Cho: Hasn't that been, historically, part of the problem? That's what I was taught, too. Just don't make a fuss, just deal with it.
Vera Wang: Right. Never make a fuss, deal with it and don't announce it, and don't protest against it. But when 80-year-old people are being knocked to the ground, it was just cruelty that I didn't understand. I've never really seen or felt that kind of anger. And I think, obviously, the pandemic has something to do with it, and the sourcing of where Covid started. I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. It was frightening to me. I just was surprised and shocked, just shocked. And it's not going away. It really isn't. And I just think that if you are any kind of public figure, I think you have to speak up, I really do.
Alina Cho: We’ve come out of the most extraordinary 16 to 18 months, probably in our lifetime — take us back to the beginning, how did you cope, how were you feeling, how did you manage day-to-day, how did you manage your business?
Vera Wang: After my fashion show [in February 2020] we went to Paris Fashion Week, me and my team. And I said, "Well, maybe they're going to cancel part of Paris Fashion Week.” Not one show was cancelled. I was there for two weeks. I called my doctor, said, "I'm leaving for New York." And he said, "Don't come back to New York, do not come back to New York City." So I said, "Where would I go?" And I said, "For how long?" He said, "Awhile." He didn't mean a week. So in my head, I read, "Okay, two weeks from now, there's something going on, going around.” So I went straight from Paris to Miami, where I ended up with my team, quarantining there for almost three months.
Alina Cho: I remember.
Vera Wang: And I just talked to my doctor every week. I’d say, "What do you think?" And he'd say, "You can't come back, it's getting really bad here. It's getting even worse."
Alina Cho: I know.
Vera Wang: And then I, being the owner of the company, was responsible for my employees. Some of them are elderly, who sew. I just said, "They can't come to work." And they begged me, they said, "We'll sew from home." And so we made masks. We made masks for New York Presbyterian. But we shut our business down completely.
Alina Cho: I learned how to cook during Covid, did you pick up any hobbies?
Vera Wang: I watched you cook these insane meals [on Instagram]. I’m saying, “I can’t go over there and eat.” And I live 10 blocks away.
Alina Cho: At least I’m not terrified to go in the kitchen anymore.
Vera Wang: I worked the entire time.
Alina Cho: Wow. You were still designing?
Vera Wang: I would still design because we were launching a brand new [bridal] line for Pronovias. I launched two different alcohols [prosecco and vodka]. Just the design for the bottle, each one took at least a year. I mean, we were busy. Really, really crazy busy.
Alina Cho: One last question, because everybody's going to want to know, how do you continue to look like a teenager when you are…
Vera Wang: I don't look like a teenager. I have two daughters. One is going to be 31. The other one is going to be 28.
Alina Cho: And you look like you're 35.
Vera Wang: But that's not a teenager.
Alina Cho: Okay, fine.
Vera Wang: A lot of it [the attention] is accidental because we’re in Miami [during the pandemic] and we’re just taking pictures [and posting them on Instagram]. And I guess people's concepts of age or... they were shocked. That's all I can say. I was astonished, maybe people were really bored.
Alina Cho: When they see you on Instagram, people say, “I bow down to the Queen.”
Vera Wang: I think it is all due to the way I style [myself]. But I've always been the same person. I've always dressed this way. It's very tomboy. You know that.
Alina Cho: You've had fun with social media.
Vera Wang: I don't even know how to operate my phone, which is humiliating to say. I need people to help me. They all laugh at the old lady. But I don't want an iPhone 8, I want my Blackberry back.
Alina Cho: Wait, you own an iPhone 8?
Vera Wang: Yes.
Alina Cho: Oh my God, Vera. Do you think that fashion has changed forever as a result of the pandemic?
Vera Wang: I do. I'm not saying that couture doesn't exist. But it's the way you put it together. It’s a changed world. It's about lifestyle, about ease. And I don't think it's going backwards.
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