When you think wedding, you think Wang. Since opening her flagship salon at the Carlyle Hotel in New York in 1990, Vera Wang has inescapably become synonymous with the pinnacle of bridal fashion. Her gowns have been seen on everyone from Mariah Carey and Victoria Beckham to Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande. She is the Oscar of bridal fashion. You would weep and thank your agent to wear her.
Fittingly, the Oscars is the first thing Vera Wang wants to discuss when we meet. ‘It’s OK, we survived,’ she laughs – in what I will come to realise is her signature bubbly, talkative New York drawl. We are zooming just 48 hours after the 95th Academy Awards, where she dressed Mindy Kaling, Janelle Monae, Laverne Cox, and herself of course.
What we are actually here to talk about is the fact that the wedding wear icon and acclaimed fashion designer, is launching a new bridesmaids’ collection in partnership with Pronovias – a partnership now in its third year. ‘I honestly love working with them,’ she says. ‘The value of the dresses is also very important to me, I know that in our couture, we have dresses from eight thousand to thirty or forty and I know that’s not accessible to everyone. Here, I’m able to reach clients that I normally would not be able to.’
Her brand new collection is a summery, bold, zesty and fashion forward coterie of 54 dresses, perfect for the modern bride who actually likes her female friends and wants them to look beautiful. We joke about this old cliché of the frumpy, ugly bridesmaid’s dress – one that Wang’s latest collection laughingly rips up. ‘But that was me when I was younger!’ She laughs – probably wishing she had been a wedding designer back when these nuptials were taking place. ‘I have been a bridesmaid twelve times. Let me tell you…some of them even had hats. Headpieces!’
You’ll see no frump and superfluous headpieces for Wang’s bridesmaids. She has tapped into, instead, what she sees as the bold new sense of fun of modern weddings – for the bridal party as much as the couple themselves. ‘I wanted to capture that energy and celebrate the camaraderie and the close friendships that are so much a part of a wedding,’ she says. ‘It’s a sense of the girls having fun. And I want them to feel sexy. That’s why designing these bright colours was so liberating.’
No more the staid photographs and sense of still solemnity at weddings for Wang. ‘I see this joy of attending weddings, more than I’ve ever seen before. And with that comes in energy and movement, and, you know, seduction and a sense of cool and hipness that I’ve put into these dresses,’ she explains. ‘Look at wedding portraits of real brides now and they’re not just posing they’re like on top of a cake anymore. There’s no more static. They’re moving. They’re laughing. They’re real.’
Wang brings this keen observation to every bride she designs for. Above all, she says that every bride should be comfortable. ‘I’ve never met a woman that was comfortable, that didn’t feel beautiful. If something doesn’t feel right on you, you’re never going to be at ease, whether it’s at a party or whether it’s at your wedding,’ she says. ‘But I still maintain, you have to suit what is really innately who you are. Because otherwise you’re just going to feel like you’re in disguise. You’re never going to feel like yourself. And after all, they are marrying you because they like you!’
There is very little about weddings that Vera Wang doesn’t know. She makes nuanced commentary of the wedding scene at the moment, detailing her impression of the Hamptons, one of the choice inspirations for her latest collection. ‘There are weddings every weekend in the Hamptons!’ she exclaims. ‘In the summer it’s Wedding Central. I think I attended at least five of them last summer.’ She observes that there is, however, no longer as much call for the ‘typical’ New York bride.
‘Everyone is a travelling bride now,’ she says, her fingers once more on the pulse of every bridal trend. ‘No one really marries in New York. If they live there now, they go away for three, maybe four-day weddings!’ I point out that I happen to know a New York Vera Wang bride myself. ‘Oh wow- and I bet she’s a travelling bride too? Where is she getting married?’ There’s a sense of I told you so, when I answer Greece. Because that’s the thing, you can’t ‘out-wedding’ Wang. There’s nothing she doesn’t know.
Bridesmaids by Vera Wang Bride, available exclusively at Pronovias: www.verawangbride.com/bridesmaids
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