To change careers in an industry that doesn't really save a seat for anyone takes courage. But to do so, and become a global success, takes a little bit of crazy — that's how designer Vera Wang put it when her legendary career from Vogue editor to fashion designer was celebrated at the launch of her collection for Zales in New York on Wednesday night. Wang designed a wedding collection for the mega retailer that's not only a breath of fresh air for bridal jewelry, but intended to be worn post-wedding day, too — only not in the way you think. The 161-piece offering makes shopping for the jewelry that's supposed to represent the first day of the rest of your life seem more like a one-stop shop than like searching for a needle in a haystack (in this case, that needle is a diamond ring that won't break the bank). The prices range from $164 to $10K and can be worn for any occasion. That's right, even picking up the kids from school or a day of jury duty calls for Wang's sparkly touch. "Jewelry has gone to a whole new place," she says. "And I think to be able to reach more attainable price points is something great for everybody. I think that’s the great part — it’s not just for the engagement, it’s not just for the wedding, or the anniversary, or friendship ring — you just build. It’s quantity after quality." It was her time at Vogue as the glossy's senior fashion editor during the late '70s and '80s that taught her how to style pretty much anything. But her wisdom doesn't stop there: Wang believes that accessories should be collected at the same rate as any other iconic part of one's wardrobe. Because who says sneakerheads can't be die-hard jewelry hoarders, too? For the selection, Wang was inspired by the saying, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." According to her, if a sapphire was good enough for Princess Diana, it's good enough for anyone. The mixed-metal, sapphire, and diamond-decorated offering includes wedding bands for men, as well.
"What I think is really great right now is that we’re starting to move into fashion jewelry. And I think the great thing is, while I’d wear my wedding jewelry for every day, I’d wear my fashion jewelry for a wedding. I’m one of those people that mixes everything up," Wang explains. "There’s room to interpret. The earrings don’t have to match, you can put the rings on whatever fingers you want, you can mix metals…I think there should be the same freedom in jewelry acquisition and style that there is in every other part of fashion. It’s the beginning of being able to see jewelry as not so serious. And not only as an investment for weddings or engagements, but for all the time." But any moment with a legendary fashion designer shan't be spent talking about just clothes, of course. As we dove more into her career, Wang reflected upon the education (as she refers to it) she earned from her time working in publishing. "I think my career has been an adventure. The things I’ve encountered, who I’ve met, who I’ve dressed, and where I ended up is just insane. I used to work in the studio and that’s what I did. I worked in the studio four days a week shooting pictures with photographers like Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, Arthur Elgort, and the fact that I’ve ended up dressing celebrities like Sofia Vergara and Emma Watson is just weird," she admits. The American designer has dressed Michelle Obama twice. So if that's the recipe for your own billion-dollar brand and a side-project as stunning as her Zales feat, Wang is living proof that weird isn't just a way of life — it sells.