Vera Wang - Fall 2008 - ELLE
Personal Style: Vera Wang
Judging from the number of Park Avenue women who've gotten married in Vera Wang dresses, I suspect this isn't entirely true, but it speaks volumes about Wang's attitude toward clothes. She's the Chapin girl with a punk-rock heart. The Chinese-American princess who swaggered her way through the hallways ofVoguein the '70s with unbrushed hair and an oversize Yves Saint Laurentsmoking.The rebel granddaughter of a Chinese warlord who made a mint in bridal but still wanders around Palm Beach during the high season in Uggs and Bermuda shorts. "Conventional clothing has always looked pretty ridiculous on me," says Wang, who grew up going to the couture in Paris with her mother and acquired her first Hermès bag at 16 but was never interested in the uniform all-one-designer look that was popular at the time. "I don't know if it's because I'm Asian or because I don't wear makeup or what, but it rarely works."
What does work, however, is Wang's idiosyncratic, high-luxe, black-sheep style, which she describes as "slouchy," "throwaway," and "full of attitude," and which embraces everything from 45rpm T-shirts to avocado-green crocodile Prada coats to long ropes of Indian diamonds. "What I've always loved from a young age is a certain sense of comfort," says Wang, who is a devoted fan of the "tweaked schoolmarm" chic of Miu Miu, Marni, and Prada, along with the stark architectural work of Japanese designers like Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto. "That may sound odd coming from somebody who's in the uppermost end of design, where clothes are often about architecture and silhouettes, but comfort was always very important to me. If I bought an Yves Saint Laurent jacket, I wouldn't buy it in a 34; I'd buy it in a 38 so it would hang and have a little bit of ease. It would look more boyish than literally Parisian."
These days, Wang is still all about layering and ease, infused with a youthful flair. A silk tunic of her own design with a jeweled neckline might go over leggings and a pair of high leather pirate boots, topped off by a long, skinny cashmere cardigan, a short-sleeved woolen coat, and a pair of long leather gloves "for edge." "I wasn't ever an uptown girl," says Wang, "but I always had an uptown budget, and that made me lethal."
Here, Wang weighs in on the key pieces for fall and how she'll be wearing them.
"I'm actually pretty tired of big furs at the moment. I have an amazing collection of Fendi furs that I started collecting with my mother back in 1978, but I'm just not that interested in it right now. There's been a lot of big fur recently. I'm more interested in flat furs, like Russian broadtail, because I can work with it like fabric. I'll wear an old Marni Russian broadtail I have this fall. I also bought the big Marc Jacobs fur coat from last fall with the man's overcoat on top, which I love and which I'll definitely be wearing, but you won't see me in a lot of fur skirts or big fur sleeves."
"I'm a glove fanatic. I have been for years. Up until recently, I always bought my gloves at Bergdorf Goodman, but I made a beautiful long washed leather glove for fall; I call it a double glove because it's a skinny, delicate glove inside a bigger, tougher glove, so you get that nice juxtaposition of masculine and feminine. I'll wear those with a lot, particularly with short sleeves and dresses."
THE STATEMENT COAT
"I like the trapeze coats, but the coat I'm most excited by at the moment is a boy's coat I made, a rabbinical coat, really, that I adore and have a feeling I will live in."
THE SOFT NEW LEATHERS
"I will definitely buy a leather skirt or dress. I don't think I'd do a whole suit, but I love Miuccia Prada's pleated camel leather skirts."
"Knits are so great because you can wear them so many different ways, and they add so much attitude and personality to the way you look. I'm also a huge fan of chunky knit hats. I wear them all the time."
THE LITTLE HOURGLASS DRESS
"I don't usually do a cinched waist, but I would.... There comes a time when I would, over leggings, probably. A short dress is basically a long top these days."
"My husband got me a Buccellati ring one year, and I was hooked. I also love the Van Cleef four-leaf clovers. I'll wear the long ones and wind them around twice.
"I've been collecting this intricate diamond jewelry, from an Indian jewelry dealer named Hari, that I'm totally obsessed with. They're not valuable stones; it's more about the workmanship. But it's a lot of effect. I'll wear a couple of long necklaces together and maybe one big ring. I've also bought some beautiful special-design Cartier watches; there's one that's very Max Ernst. If I wear a watch, I won't wear other jewelry. I also love a military-style pendant right now. I made mine on felt with big, chunky rhinestones. They're more like medals than necklaces."
"I'm very careful how I wear color. Color for me, to be well-done, has to be very thought-out. Camel was my big color for fall. I did some pieces in a cardinal red and a bright, almost a shamrock, green, but camel was the biggest color. For me, camel is the new gray."
THE SLEEVELESS COAT
"Love it. I love the beige double-breasted sleeveless leather coat from Prada for day. I also made some sleeveless coats that I love. They look fabulous with sweaters or other coats underneath them."
"I'll definitely wear a jodhpur. I made a gabardine jodhpur that I love. That's the kind of thing I'd love for evening with a sweater."
"I've always been big on layering. Always. The trick is to get the right combination of textures and proportion and edginess; that's what makes things interesting. It also gives a sense of rich-poor that I like. I'll wear a heather-gray undershirt from 45rpm under a very luxe silk peasant blouse, then throw a thin wool cardigan on top, with maybe a shearling coat over that. I also did a double sweater this season, which is basically two very thin Japanese wool cardigans of different lengths and colors sewn together." Wang points out that the important thing about layering is not overwhelming yourself with clothes. "Especially if you're short like I am," she quips (though she is in fact five foot six), "it's important to make sure that some part of you is streamlined."
"Usually, I don't wear high-heeled shoes. I don't know why, but I look absurd in them unless I wear them with something very edgy."
THE WINTER SANDAL
"I'm still really into the winter sandal; I have a very old one I love from Prada that I've had for about three years. I'll wear it with leggings or ribbed tights and a little dress. A lot of designers showed black tights for fall, but that felt a little '80s to me.
Video: Vera Wang Interview | In the Studio | The New York Times
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