Vera Wang’s Pop Culture Influence

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When it comes to weddings, surely one name comes to mind faster than any others. It’s Vera Wang, and–even outside of fashion runways and catalogues–she’s the undisputed queen of beautiful, ornate, and fantastically tasteful bridal creations.

But Wang has for some time been more than a typical bridal or even high fashion designer–she has a place in pop culture. Kim Kardashian wore Vera Wang when she wed Kris Humphries; her sister, Khloe, slipped into a Vera Wang mermaid gown for her wedding to Lamar Odom. Victoria Beckham’s Vera Wang wedding dress–a champagne dream worn in her 1999 ceremony to David Beckham–is still in her closet for her daughter Harper to wear one day. Mariah Carey wore Vera Wang to wed, and so did Sharon Stone. Even J.Lo selected a custom, 18-tier Vera Wang–the most expensive and elaborate gown the designer ever created–for the wedding to Ben Affleck that never happened. When Bill walked Chelsea Clinton down the aisle, the former first daughter was arrayed in an ornate ivory silk organza Vera Wang creation.

The designer’s place in the collective conscious extends beyond her celebrity dressing, of course. Remember the early 2000s? Wang showed up on every TV show that mattered. Blair Waldorf chose a Vera Wang dress for her wedding to Prince Louis of Monaco on Gossip Girl. (Wang, who made a cameo on the show, was one of Waldorf’s favorite designers from the get-go of the series–not a surprise; Wang is original Upper East Side royalty herself after all). Charlotte wore Vera Wang when she married Trey on Sex and the City, as did Carrie. The Chinese American designer played herself on Ugly Betty to design Wilhelmina Slater’s bridal set. Later, both Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway wore custom Vera Wang designs in the movie Bride Wars.

The myth behind Wang comes from more than her uncontested eye for romantic detail and elegant eggshell and ivory creations. Before she got into fashion, the designer was on the path to becoming an Olympic ice skater. When that dream didn’t work out, she turned to her other love: clothing. She put in 16 years at one of America’s most well-known fashion magazines, and later, at age 40, opened up a small shop selling wedding dresses on Madison Avenue at the suggestion of her father. It was here that she began to try her hand at her own designs–gowns that were less traditional bridal, and more influenced by the world of ready-to-wear that Wang was so at home in. Her business grew slowly at first, then took on a life of its own, becoming a full-fledged empire as Wang secured licensing deals, Kardashian love, and turned early attention to the Chinese and other Asian markets. When Wang is mentioned today not just the dress but the whole fantasy of a dream wedding is imagined. She’s a formidable businesswoman and a master of self-reinvention at any age–not a bad point of reference for women looking for inspiration for their wedding, or simply indulging in her ready-to-wear for themselves and no one else.

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