Don’t ever compare Vera Wang to a certain domestic diva. ”I’m not Martha Stewart,” says the designer, whose signature gowns have swathed the likes of Sharon Stone, Mariah Carey, and Charlize Theron. ”I’m not gonna tell you how to make your cupcakes — if you don’t even want goddamn cupcakes, that’s okay.”
It’s exactly that brand of earthy frankness that elevates Wang’s gorgeous new book Vera Wang on Weddings (HarperCollins, $60) above her frilly coffee-table contemporaries. While filled with striking images of haute couture (one shoot cost more than $1 million), luscious jewels, and more blossoms than Trudie Styler’s Oscar frock, the tome’s surprising strength is Wang’s straightforward, unpretentious advice for would-be brides — whether they can shell out the bucks for her designer confections or not.
”If they can’t afford the dress, they can still take a part of me with them,” says Wang, 52, who spent 16 years as a Vogue senior editor before launching her celebrated bridal line in 1990. ”I’m not a designer in an ivory tower. I attend weddings, participate in weddings…and really have lived through these things with girls.”
It just so happens that some of those ”girls” include Karenna Gore Schiff, Vanessa Williams, and Heidi Klum. Nevertheless, Wang’s tips are as useful to normal folk as they are to celebs: Hold your wedding on a Thursday — as Wang and husband Arthur did at the Pierre in 1989 — to avoid inconveniencing guests with weekend plans. Make sure tattoos and piercings aren’t peeking out from the edges of your strapless. A short poufed skirt can de-emphasize stocky legs.
But beyond the practicalities, Wang hopes her book — for which she went through 10 writers before penning it herself — will help give brides the courage to personalize their weddings. ”If for you it’s all about big hair and cleavage and jewels, then you shouldn’t ignore who you are,” she says. ”Just try to make it as tasteful as possible.”