When music superstars Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton tied the knot, she wore not one but two custom Vera Wang looks. The designer has long reigned as wedding dress royalty, and at the age of 72, she’s still creating both haute couture and a lucrative ready-to-wear line sold exclusively at Kohls.
Few fashioned designers have achieved this level of critical and commercial success, but how much do you know about Vera Wang?
Early Life as a Figure-Skating Debutant
Wang grew up in New York City during the 1960s, attending the exclusive all-girls Chapin School in the Upper East Side. From an early age, she trained to be a figure skater. Shortly after graduating high school, She and her pairs partner, James Stuart, competed in the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but they didn’t make the cut for the Olympics team.
That same year, she participated in the International Debutante Ball, establishing her position in high society. However, instead of following the path of most socialites, Wang pursued higher education. She attended the Sorbonne in Paris before earning a degree in art history from Sarah Lawrence College, a prestigious private liberal arts school in New York.
Right after graduating, Wang became the youngest person to be hired as an editor at Vogue. She would stay with the magazine for 17 years before making a major career move. Instead of writing about fashion, she would start making it–beginning in 1987, when she joined Ralph Lauren’s design house.
After just two years, Wang broke out on her own. In 1989, Wang turned 40, married investor Arthur Becker, and launched her own bridal wear line. Just a few years later, she made Mariah Carey’s wedding gown–which sported a 27-foot-train and puffed sleeves inspired by Princess Diana’s gown–for a cool $25,000.
Famous Brides Dressed by Vera Wang
It might be easier to list which celebrities haven’t worn Vera Wang wedding dresses. The list is as impressive as it is eclectic. Wang dressed everyone from two of the Kardashians to Chelsa Clinton. Here are a few of the highlights from her long career:
Kaley Cuoco married Ryan Sweeting in 2014 in a custom Vera Wang that swapped out classic white for a pretty petal pink. The strapless sweetheart neckline and full tulle skirt gave the look a timeless feel despite the color.
Kim Kardashian also went with Vera Wang for her first wedding, when she tied the knot with Kris Humphries in 2011. In fact, Kim commissioned three different gowns from Wang for her big day, from a classic princess-style ballgown to a slinkier mermaid dress for the reception.
Chelsea Clinton‘s Vera Wang for her 2010 wedding to Marc Mezinsky was also strapless… but that’s where the resemblance to Kim K’s gown ends. Her intricately layered and ruffled silk confection was cinched at the waist by a wide band of crystal embroidery.
Victoria Beckham might be a fashion designer in her own right now, but when she wed David Beckham in 1999, she chose Vera Wang to create her look. The bold satin ballgown featured an origami-like neckline, a drop waist, and a massive skirt. She accessorized the dress with a small gold crown.
Gwen Stefani’s Custom Couture
Proving that she’s still got it, Wang created “a custom lily-white silk georgette gown with a sweetheart plunging neckline, cut away back, fitted bodice and high low hand tumbled tulle skirt” for Gwen Stefani, according to People Magazine’s exclusive on the Stefani-Shelton nuptials.
Stefani’s chapel-length veil was embroidered along the border with the names of her family: Blake, Gwen herself, and her three boys, Kingston, Zuma, and Apollo.
For the reception, she swapped out the tulle confection for an even edgier minidress that showed off her stiletto cowboy boots. While the styles didn’t scream “classic bride,” they were perfect for the pop star.