Just three days after dressing Janelle Monáe, Laverne Cox and Mindy Kaling at the 95th Academy Awards, Vera Wang launches her 2023 Bridesmaid Collection.
In a cross-Atlantic call, Citizen Femme spoke to Vera about her life of fashion and travel.
The designer recalls a trip she made aged seven on which she believes “fashion was somehow infused” into her blood and tells us about her dream destinations, the things she can’t travel without, and the design inspiration behind the 54 fresh, fun and wedding-ready dresses in her new collection.
What is the first trip you remember taking?
This is going to really date me. Going to Europe on the RMS Mauretania to London with my mother and brother. I think I was seven; that was in the days we travelled on ocean liners, if you can believe that. I’m not even sure if Pan Am or TWA existed. It was a wonderful holiday and we ended up in Paris as well. It was a significant trip because Paris and London became very important to me. It affected me a great deal as a child: I’d never seen monuments like that. We went to the Tower of London and I’d never seen anything like it as a child from New York. I think there are some pictures somewhere of me in my sober charcoal grey silver patent leather shoes in front of Versailles. Fashion was somehow infused into my blood on that trip.
I also have another story of a beautiful, beautiful statue of Queen Elizabeth that my mother bought me at Harrods. She’s a life-sized portrait of Elizabeth that I’ve got to find because she’s probably worth 10 million dollars now!
What’s been your most memorable trip and why?
A trip that I really loved was my last trip before the pandemic, to the Amanzoe in Greece. Architecturally there’s a purity to the place that I identify with and there’s a feeling of absolutely being in the middle of the desert. The way it’s placed, you don’t see other accommodation so you feel almost as though you’re going back into prehistoric times. For me, with the lifestyle I normally live, that is such a zen place.
The beauty of Greece: the sky, the sea and the Aman. It’s a unique place – The Glass Onion was shot [at the Amanzoe] – it’s another level to anywhere I’ve ever stayed before. I’ve spent centuries going to the South of France – Nice, St. Tropez, Ramatuelle – but I think the place where I feel most peaceful and at one with nature is here, in an ancient environment with totally modern amenities, editing and curating. You can go to all the islands, you can get on boats to Hydra, Spetses, all those great islands.
If I could go anywhere tomorrow I’d go to..
That’s too big a list. I’d like to get back to London again. I was just there for BAFTAs but didn’t have enough time to see friends and visit some museums. Things like that are really important to me when I go to London.
I like the Biennale in Venice, I think that’s always a wonderful event for art-loving people.
What I’d really love to do – it’s on my bucket list in a larger sense – would be to see the Pyramids. I would love to make that trip.
Tell us about the inspiration for your new Bridesmaids Collection…
As well as New York, I’m very influenced by travel and by the other part of my American culture, which is LA and Miami. I actually have a home in LA so I’m very influenced by California and the youth culture out there – as well as New York, which is more grungy. It’s a very different culture.
Because of the weather, LA brings a certain joyful, happy, energetic kind of emotion and in this particular campaign – of which I’m extremely proud – with the accessories and the energy of the girls and the choice of flowers and foliage, there’s a joy. It was actually shot at my place in the Hamptons and it implies sunshine, blue skies, happiness, optimism, energy. All the things I think that people feel at weddings now.
Our first [collection] was maybe more formal and whimsical; it had tiaras and headbands, little roses in the hair. [The new collection] has sun caps and snake sandals.
What kind of wedding do you envision your dresses being worn for?
It’s meant to be outdoors. [In both campaign shoots] the girls were really, really celebrating, partying, and having a great time. I think that energy really comes across, there’s a camaraderie among the girls, they’re really friends and love being there for the bride. That was the whole goal. We really wanted to change up the location: we went from indoors [in the last collection] to outdoors.
Is there a particular wedding destination you have in mind for these dresses?
I went to five weddings in the Hamptons last summer so I actually got to see real-life weddings, and it’s very much that energy we tried to capture. Even for the guests or the parents. It’s interesting because I think it’s a lot less formal [than the last collection] partially due to being in the Hamptons.
What are your must-have travel picks?
I travel in layers. I tie things around my hips and around my neck, because I always get cold or hot. I like to be able to re-create my layers while travelling. I look like a pack horse; I’ve got lots of stuff that I can layer and un-layer. But it’s also a fashion statement; it’s very grunge and that’s on purpose.
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Another thing is my passport. In the past, I’ve actually left it or forgotten it and gotten to the airport, so I’m hypersensitive about it. I know that sounds odd with the amount of travelling I’ve done in my life – I used to travel for Vogue ten out of 12 months, to Paris Fashion Week, or Milano, Mexico, Miami. But the passport issue has become very important to me now so that everybody around me doesn’t have a heart attack.
Usually if it’s a very long flight I have a burger in the airport. I don’t travel with food but I eat food before I board. That’s really true: a vodka cocktail and a burger.
If you could sit next to anyone on a flight – dead or alive – who would it be?
I think Coco Chanel. I’d like to ask her a few questions about life, love and fashion.
Lead image credit: @verawang on Instagram
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