Monday, January 16, 2006

"It's always about product"

So I'm kind of fascinated by this New York Magazine piece on Vera Wang. I can't quite picture how famous the designer is in general--I've passed her Madison Ave. storefront more days of my life than not--but regardless, she's an upscale designer of often-gorgeous wedding gowns who does not want to be put into a bridal box.

The article more or less confirms any suspicions one may have had about the need for connections and money to succeed in the fashion world. Early in the story, there's a quote from (Vogue editor) Anna Wintour about what a great designer Wang is; later on, is is revealed that the two are close friends, and that Wintour used to date Wang's brother. And then, the inevitable:

Wang has always been an Upper East Side girl, the daughter of a wealthy Chinese businessman. She went to Chapin and then, when her dreams of becoming an Olympic figure skater didn’t work out, to Sarah Lawrence, where she studied art history (with stints at Columbia and the Sorbonne). She spent summers working at Yves Saint Laurent on Madison, where she was already a familiar face from shopping trips with her mother.

Fair enough. And then, despite her father's demands that she go to "Yale Law" rather than design school (had she been admitted to either? or is this irrelevant?), she is conveniently whisked off to work at Vogue.

Then, a quote about motherhood that would make David Brooks cringe, and that, frankly, is disturbing even to non-reactionary ears: "Her daughter has come home, but Wang doesn’t notice. 'Are the girls here?' Wang asks her housekeeper. They are, is the answer. 'Okay,' Wang says, and she’s off."

And, a soundbyte on married life: "'So I married my husband. There are days I’m not happy I did it, but there are days I’m thrilled—I mean, he has always understood my nature, which is that it’s always about product.'"

But then, my favorite:

For all her Upper East Side fashion-world credentials, Wang has never been much of a socialite. Her love has always been her work. Her best friend is Lisa Jackson, an interior decorator who lives just a few doors down on Park ... “We have literally shopped around the world together,” Jackson says. There was the time in Paris when they got into such a frenzy at Lacoste that they stopped bothering with the dressing room. “That was over T-shirts!” Jackson says.

Doesn't "shopping around the world" with a friend from Park Avenue count as "socialite" activity? What's disturbing is that, in the New York Magazine universe, this shopping anecdote is meant to show how down-to-earth Wang is. Jet-setting shopping sprees as opposed to what, exactly? Oh well.


Julie said...

Welcome to my world, or rather, the world I can't seem to break into. Vera Wang is the one designer that women attempt to point to as a success but then it is quickly taken away by her little Vogue background. Wang seems to be the only woman that Wintour likes. Maybe because she has a Wang? OK discard that. Daniel pointed your post out to me so I had to comment.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm being a philistine but I've always being a bit skeptical of the amount of talent one needs to be a successful fashion designer

dio said...

Hmm, I actually did detect a bit of snarkiness re the anecdote. Of course the journalist can't come right out and diss Vera Wang, unless NYM wants to lose advertising revenue. But as a whole the piece was less than flattering to Ms Wang =)