For years I was a faithful fan of the TV show Project Runway. Every episode started with these words of advice to aspiring new designers from the veteran fashion judges:
"Remember... we want to see your unique point of view as a designer in every single piece you create."
I would hear their admonition and think, boy oh boy. That's a tough nut to crack. Exactly how does one show their unique point of view in a clothing design?
Then I read a recent article about the famous designer Vera Wang and I got it. She did exactly that. After 17 years as senior fashion editor for Vogue magazine, she began her design career and opened her first bridal boutique showroom in 1990. It was located at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. The store had nothing but wedding gowns, and each and every one was uniquely Vera. Stunningly beautiful, her designs were simple and youthful, yet sophisticated and ever so feminine. They were tremendously flattering to the female figure as well.
"For me, the magic is in weightless clothes, cutting armholes that add grace, cleverly exposing the best parts and sensuously draping fabric over less fabulous ones, offering enough internal support to allow a woman to feel secure while being totally comfortable. A woman is never sexier than when she is comfortable in her clothes," Vera Wang said in an interview with In Style magazine in December of 2000.
I was in love with her aesthetic and the gorgeous fabrics she chose. I was crazy nuts about Vera Wang. To me she was the perfect example of someone whose designs accurately reflected her unique point of view as a designer.
Since that time, not only has she built a multi-million dollar design business, I swear she has never aged. She looks virtually the same as she did 30-some years ago. She has the same girlish, slim figure; the same shiny, long dark hair; and she almost always wears the same signature outfit (black tights with a comfy sweater and boots) every time I see her in the magazines. I was literally shocked to learn that she is 62 years old. Shut the front door. Not possible. Are they talking about Vera Wang or Dorian Gray?
But here's the thing: Vera created a design aesthetic and a signature brand that is now recognized and applauded worldwide. She also developed a flawless reputation for both quality and beauty. And despite the fact that her company now offers a lower end clothing/accessories line for various discount stores, which I understand she oversees, she continues to make time to design wedding gowns!
Best of all, she seems to maintain that certain signature look—one that is youthful, modern, simple and drop-dead gorgeous. Granted, few of us are willing to purchase a Vera Wang couture original, but just so you know, there are tons of copies out there and one of those knock-offs might just work for you (or yours).
Hats off to you, Vera. You are super smart, successful and beautiful. Please keep on designing those gorgeous wedding gowns. And one of these days, I hope you will share your secret to eternal youth with the rest of us.