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Designer Vera Wang Lives Large

July 15, 2020

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Over the years, I have heard a number of comments about Wang that go like this, “Of course she has money, she’s the daughter of a Chinese warlord.” I didn’t have the slightest idea what a warlord was and still don’t. This was followed by, “Her parents supported her until she was 39-years-old.” This was said because it was known that Vogue paid modest salaries. The reason for this was the fact that all their editors were rich girls with parents who paid their monthly expenses – including their rent. I knew they were a chic, slim group of beautifully dressed females but I had no idea if this was true. And finally, it was rumored that Wang was a champion figure skater but gave up the sport because she felt she wasn’t capable of winning an Olympic Gold Medal. This I can understand: that’s a pretty daunting goal.

Vera Wang in one of her exotic creations

Then, in the February 2020 issue of Vogue I came across a riveting six-page article about Wang and her massive 7,400 sq. ft. duplex on the 10th floor in a building designed by renowned architect, Rosario Candela. This 1929 Art Deco structure was the subject of a book titled, “740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building” that was written by Michael Gross and published in 2005 – and yes, one can buy it on Amazon.

This is the apartment that Wang’s parents lived in for 30 years and now it was hers. “What a wonderful gift from her parents,” I said to myself when I read this. And then I read further and found that Wang BOUGHT the apartment for $23.1 million dollars – the money went to the estate of her late father. Mr. Wang and his wife, Florence paid $350,000 for the duplex in 1983 – meaning it was bought for six digits and sold for eight.

SHE’S HAD A STELLAR CAREER Overall, Wang has lived quite a life in her 71 years. She was born in New York City and went to Chapin and Sarah Lawrence. In her teens she won figure skating awards but, after graduating from college, she gave up this sport. She began working for Vogue, and at the tender age of 23 she was promoted to senior fashion editor, a title she kept for the next 15 years.

She married in 1989 and, the following year, opened her own bridal boutique with financing from her father. She honed her skills as a fashion designer and launched a collection of sophisticated bridal wear. But her big break came during the 1994 Olympics when she designed a hand-beaded ensemble for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. Her business has continued to grow and now includes lingerie, jewelry and products for the home. 

HOME? LET’S SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING Once upon a time this spectacular apartment was divided into rooms: six for staff and six bedrooms. There is no trace of that now. The walls have been stripped down to the limestone and all the moldings are gone – it now resembles a white box. “This whole thing has been an exercise in total insanity,” she laughs. “I knew I was doing something sacrilegious because this building is so famous architecturally. I wanted the rooms to be like a studio, where I could move things around.”

Over a period of 10 years (or nine summers), Vera Wang’s palatial New York apartment was slowly remodeled

Gleaming artwork is mounted over a fireplace in the Morning Room

A WORK IN PROGRESS FOR 10 YEARS “This isn’t as crazy as it sounds she explains to writer, Lynn Yaeger as they chat in the apartment. “In this building you’re only allowed to renovate from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so in reality it’s been nine summers.” Moving on, she uprooted the pedestal sinks in the bathrooms with their Tiffany glass legs and put them in storage. “They can be handed back to whoever lives here after me,” she says. (I’ve had pedestal sinks all my life – I love them. Of course none of them had Tiffany legs.)

A gallery-like hall – all photos courtesy of Vogue, February 2020

How does Wang see herself in all this? “Basically, I am a minimalist at heart,” she says, as Yaeger and Wang ascend a stunning staircase in the duplex. Then guess what?

HER CLAIM OF MINIMALISM IS SHOT TO HELL

No, it’s shot COMPLETELY to hell. How? Those six former bedrooms are now a GIANT CLOSET that holds fashions of the last half-century. I’m speechless: except for one last thing – there are 17 TV screens in this over-the-top abode.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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