Most people associate the name 'Vera Wang' with a high profile fashion label creating expensive (albeit beautiful) wedding dresses for the rich and famous. Whilst I'm championing Vera in the fashion stakes for her creation of a black wedding dress line, it's her work on the periphery of the scene that is particularly interesting.
Vera Wang in fashion
Everyone loves an underdog and Vera herself is no stranger to failure. Her initial dream for a a career as an Olympic figure skater never took off and a rejection from Vogue followed some years later. As assistant to former Vogue fashion director Polly Mellen, Vera used the position as a chance to learn the industry. An employee of Vogue for some 17 years, it was not until the mid-80's at the age of 40 that she set about creating what has become one of the most respected fashion labels in the world (via a stint at Ralph Lauren).
Vera Wang on failure
In a world where we showcase our best on a stream of media forums, the idea of failure isn't exactly promoted as something to aspire to. Vera is a great example of someone who has shifted expectations to try something new and that's pretty great in itself. In an interview with The Cut Vera addressed the issue of failure head on, stating: “Don't be afraid of failing. I think not trying is worse than failing. Have the courage to try. Otherwise, what are we here for?”
Vera Wang on modern anxiety
As a fashion designer, Vera has an accessibility rarely seen in an established professional. She's keen to express her opinion on life's anxieties, acknowledging the effects of “what’s going on culturally — the hookups, the Tinder thing.”
Vera's latest philanthropic opportunity came from Vogue Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. After an introduction (from Wintour) to her ex-husband, psychiatrist David Shaffer, Vera began a conversation around the resources addressing anxiety among the young. The New York-Presbyterian Youth Anxiety Centre was established as a result of this partnership (in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia College of Physicians and
Surgeons) with a focus on the treatment, research and education of mental health issues. Focusing on anxiety disorders in people aged 16 to 28, the centre enables a tailored approach to anxiety developing throughout the transition to adulthood.
Vera Wang on the future of anxiety
Vera's insight to the development and progression of anxiety-related disorders is that of someone who sees further afield than her immediate circle to 'find ways to help kids deal with it earlier on, to give them the tools to avoid what could become extreme behavior.”
If that's what a failure looks like, everyone should aspire to be one.