Queen of wedding fashion

Vera Wang dresses Hollywood stars

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

FAIRFIELD -- She has dressed Hollywood's finest and turned nervous brides into swans - all with her exquisite designs. She is designer Vera Wang.

Hailed as a bridal gown designer diva, the native New Yorker is spreading her wings. Not only does she have a published wedding book, a line of accessories and a Barbie bridal gown collection, but Wang is now introducing a men's fragrance to accompany the award-winning women's fragrance, Vera Wang.

But she's not stopping there. On a recent trip to Macy's Valley Fair Mall, Wang and Lord Wedgwood (better known for his Waterford/Crystal Stemware line), introduced her home collection, "Actor's Studio."

The woman who was editor of Vogue magazine for 17 years and design director for Ralph Lauren took some time during her visit to California to chat on the phone about her line. This warm yet tough, outgoing woman talks about her inspirations, her designs and gives bridal advice.

What has been the inspiration for the "Actor's Studio" line?

It's a wedding registry, and I think for most women and men that it's a time when you merge homes. It was a logical progression of my brand. I do bridal wear, evening wear, formal wear and then I moved backward to sportswear, sweaters, and that's how we built this company. It was the next logical step.
It's clear you're complementing each area of a wedding. So what's next?

Ready to wear, but not like Dolce & Gabbana. It's a lower-priced line. It would be a bride line that would become a prom line, which is very fun to me. It will be more affordable to everyone.

As for your bridal dresses, where does your inspiration come from?

It really depends. This season I did beading but tossed out the embroidery flowers. I'm always working with technology and fabrics. I work with ribbons to make it more interesting, like little strips, and we're doing micro work and double stitches. It's all in the detail.

Who has been the most interesting person for whom you've designed a dress?

I learn something from everyone I collaborate with and yet, I've learned a lot from dressing Hollywood stars. They are very savvy about themselves, have a professional outlook on their bodies but yet very few think of themselves as perfect, even though the world sees them that way.

What was the most unusual design you've ever created?

I think it would be Sharon Stone's gown. It was a challenge to make. She didn't want the traditional, but rather more ready-to-wear oriented. On the other hand, it was a complex one piece. She wanted a dress that draped like a sarong built on a body suit. I was building a skirt on a body suit, one bit piece of fabric that was practically sewn on her body.

For Charlize Theron, the dress had about six to eight layers of chiffon on an array of layers and was a mixture of colors. It was almost like mixing paint. It was almost a challenge to make.

After making a dress for a bride, do you attend their weddings?

Sometimes, but I'm not always invited. I do worry myself sick if I do go, the stress of the dress and the whole thing - I feel like a party planner!

Do you feel obligated to buy them a gift?

That's the best question I've ever heard! Sometimes I do, depends on how close I am to the family, but I just don't send gifts gratuitously.

Do you work alone or do you have an assistant?

I have an assistant, but I like to collaborate by myself. It really depends on the client, some like to pick from ready-to-wear and it's a version of that, some from scratch - you never know.

Anyone you'd like to design for?

Yeah, Keira Knightley, Nicole Kidman and Ren/e Zellweger - I'm petite myself and I have a good aesthetic for that and Ren/e has a sense of humor for clothes.

Jennifer Aniston is great and I've dressed Jennifer Lopez - when people love fashion it makes it great for the designer.

How do you think a short, slightly heavy woman would look in your dress?

My dresses come in all shapes and sizes and they would look great. I dress about 10,000 women a year and I have a great many brides that wear size 16/18.

What advice do you have for brides-to-be?

Be yourself, be really true to yourself. It's your day and it's about you, your personality, your sense of style and who you truly are. If you disguise yourself that's the greatest error you can make.

Whoever is marrying you is marrying who you are as a person and you have to remember that. Also, get married in a way that suits your lifestyle. Some people get sidetracked by the people around them, but it's about the two of you.