That’s how Vera Wang sized up the two-and-a-half week-long lead-up to what is her 60th bridal collection. Seated in her Madison Park offices while lithesome models showed off her cool-girl wedding dresses, Wang said, “First there was ready-to-wear, then there was the Emmys in L.A. and then there was bridal. The investment in time, money, human resources and creativity is enormous on that kind of schedule. I can only compare it to maybe Pierpaolo [Piccioli] at Valentino, who has men’s, couture, ready-to-wear and then men’s again and couture. It’s a rough schedule if you do all of these collections.”
The milestone wasn’t ever a consideration for Wang, who said she is always up against it. “No, that didn’t even occur to me. I feel the same pressure every time I put a collection out. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 31st, 78th or the 16th. I pressure myself to be more creative, more of a thinker, and someone who is trying to envision things in a new way.”
From her standpoint, fashion’s always-on cycle asks a lot of designers, which is not the norm in other creative industries. “You don’t drop an album on schedule, but in fashion you are asked to be on schedule. Many people go off of it and do it when they feel it’s right like Azzedine [Alaïa]. Alex [Wang] is doing a lot whenever he is ready. I pretty much stick to the schedules — bridal, ready-to-wear and we do a lot in Hollywood. That’s like an added collection. It may look like a dress, but the process to get that dress is every bit as difficult as doing a collection.”
Free from flowers, beads and for the most part trains, the 2020 fall/winter collection has an assortment of separates like a black satin ruffle bra; light ivory silk bloomers; a light ivory, Italian tulle, floor-length head scarf, and a black silk, duchess wide obi belt. Her take on “selective nudity” included a camisole coat dress that could be worn with a high side slit or more buttoned-up. In a black Givenchy hoodie and leggings, the designer spoke of the demands of her profession. “Whenever I feel worried that I can’t come up with it, I tell myself I’ve done this 30, 40, 50 times before. But I can’t say the process is not excruciating. We made over 800 pieces of clothing with all the elements for ready-to-wear,” she said.
With 23 freestanding stores globally, the designer said bridal sales are strongest “by far” in Japan, followed by China. “We own our stores and factories, which is rare for bridal,” Wang said, extending her arms like a “W.” These are made in America. That’s rare to say that a dress is made in America today.”
As for why much of the bridal industry appears to be trapped in a time capsule, Wang said, laughing, “I don’t know. I’m not trapped. I may be trapped in a whole other time that’s interplanetary. When you see trends in ready-to-wear, that definitely probably affects the way my brain functions. I’m not thinking this is wedding per se. Any of these dresses done in another color could be red-carpet and they often are.”
Either way, her creative quest will continue. “I always think it’s got to go to a new place and be better. It’s got to push the ball somewhere else. That’s one of the reasons why I became a designer. I was an editor and I wanted to make some kind of contribution where I pushed myself,” Wang said. “I bring the same level of commitment to bridal that I bring to ready-to-wear. It’s not because it’s my 30th. It’s because I think it’s worth doing to the best of your ability.”
After showing her more affordable wedding collection for David’s Bridal Tuesday and being honored by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation Oct. 17, Wang will join Alina Cho for a talk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Oct. 21.