Check out Gawker's new profile of the one and only Vera Wang:
Who: The fashion stalwart may be best known for her wedding dresses, but she's branched out into fragrances, eyewear, shoes, home furnishings, and more.
Backstory: Vera grew up in a family of immense wealth: Her Chinese-born father, Cheng-Ching ("C.C.") Wang built a fortune in the pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and packaged goods industries as the co-founder of U.S. Summit, a company that Vera's brother oversees to this day; her mother, Florence, was the daughter of a Chinese warlord and a former translator at the United Nations, who took Vera with her on many a shopping trip. Vera attended Chapin, was a competitive figure skater (she narrowly missed a shot at the making the Olympic pairs team in 1968), and went to college at Sarah Lawrence, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris her junior year. When her dad wouldn't pay for grad school in design, she took a job as a sittings assistant at Vogue instead, working at the magazine for 17 years and ending up European editor.
After coming to the conclusion that she'd probably never be Vogue's editor-in-chief, Wang left the mag in the mid-'80s to take a job designing accessories and at-home wear for Ralph Lauren. A couple of years later, she convinced her father-who had long turned down her requests for capital-to finance a line of her own. He had one proviso: It had to be bridal wear. She reluctantly agreed, and it turned out to be a fortuitous decision. Bridal wear lacked a high-end brand name at the time and Wang redefined the industry during the '90s, replacing the once de rigueur frilly, poufy-sleeved dresses with sophisticated, intricate gowns. A decade later, with help from her (now deceased) right-hand Chet Hazzard and licensing chief Laura Lee Miller, the Vera Wang brand has expanded to countless other markets.
Of note: Wang's early buzz as a designer was a result of her pricey, custom bridal dresses, and she remains the brand of choice for many of the fussiest brides. Jessica Simpson, Mariah Carey, Karenna Gore, Sharon Stone, Melania Trump, and Jennifer Lopez (on two occasions) have all worn her down the aisle.
By 2000, she'd moved into the fragrance business with a scent for women to wear on their wedding day. She soon moved into dishes, flatware, stationery, and lingerie. On Valentine's Day '11, her new bridal line, White, will exclusively hit David's Bridal stores.
Personal: After decades of being, as she describes it, a "fashion nun," Wang tied the knot just a few months shy of her 40th birthday. Her husband is Arthur Becker, a former Bear Stearns broker-turned-computer executive. After unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, the couple adopted two Eurasian kids in the early '90s, Cecilia and Josephine. The family resides in the 740 Park duplex once occupied by Vera's parents. They sold their previous apartment, a six-bedroom spread at 778 Park, for $33 million in October 2007. [via Gawker]