On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
When fashion designer Vera Wang, who runs a luxury brand empire and frequently puts in 7-day workweeks, was asked by Harvard Business Review about her work ethic, she credited her Chinese heritage, “My parents were immigrants, and they never allowed me to be spoiled. You worked. You worked. You worked. That’s an immigrant mentality.”
Wang has been in the fashion business over 50 years, starting out as an editor at Vogue (where she spent 17 years), before joining Ralph Lauren as a design director, and then finally launching her own company in 1990.
But before all that, she was a figure skater. “It’s a wonderful sport for young women. It teaches you discipline. It gives you the joy of self-expression,” Wang said about figure skating. “There’s speed; there’s movement; and when you fall down, you pick yourself up and try again. It’s a good metaphor for life.” When she failed to make the U.S. Olympics team, she turned to fashion.
If I really think back, ice skating is probably the most honest way I came into fashion. It’s about the sense of movement – that girl who is a bit of a tomboy and a bit of an athlete, but still an artist.The Unfollowers, Part Three | Farfetch
These days, instead of waking up at dawn for figure skate practice, Wang lets herself sleep in until 8am. “Sleeping is a luxury because since I was young, I woke up very early to go ice-skating,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “So I’m really not a morning girl.” It was also on advice from her friend, Sharon Stone, who told her “I don’t think Picasso woke up at five in the morning to go farming,” so Wang now routinely gets 7-8 hours of sleep during the weekdays, and 10 hours on the weekend on occasion.
After catching up on emails and texts, Wang has breakfast in bed. “I have a housekeeper who I consider a mother figure,” she said. “She brings me breakfast in bed, either yogurt and fresh fruit or eggs and chicken sausage. If it’s a Sunday, for a treat I’ll have smoked salmon with brown bread and lots of lemon.”
Then it’s on to picking her outfit for the day:
Getting dressed is a whole thing for me. My closet is organized by tops, pants, and outerwear, but not a lot of dresses. Gowns are in another room because I don’t often dress formally, even though I design gowns. Like most designers, I have a uniform, and mine is a legging. And if it’s not a legging, it’s a pant that’s like a legging. They could be from Balenciaga or Givenchy, or from Danskin or my Kohl’s line. Then I throw on a T-shirt. After that I’m a complete outerwear freak. I work very hard to look casual. It’s deliberate to look like you didn’t try too hard, as my old boss Ralph Lauren would say. I never carry a handbag, just my BlackBerry and eyewear.My List: Vera Wang in 24 Hours | Harper’s Bazaar
At the office, Wang can get pulled in a number of different directions — organising a new show, working on an upcoming collection, collaborating with the design team, just to name a few. “It’s nearly impossible. I prioritize like mad,” she said when asked how she manages to juggle everything. “When you’re an owner, you never forget. There are people whose livelihoods depend on you. So every decision I make, I consider whether it’s about my ego or the reality of the business. This is the civil war in my brain every minute I’m awake.”
I probably have seven meetings a day because I have to know what’s going on with every single thing we do, from sheets and towels to eyewear, home goods, and fragrances. I learned that very well from Ralph Lauren, who was my mentor.A Day in the Life of Vera Wang | InStyle
As busy as she is during the day, Wang will never skip lunch, although she’ll hardly leave the office. “I think it’s important not to skip meals, so we order in for the team and eat in the design room or my office,” she told InStyle. “I go through periods of Japanese for six months, or sometimes it’s a favorite Jewish deli for chicken soup with lots of vegetables.”
Wang tries to leave the office at 6pm every day, but that can be tricky especially when new collections are coming out. Once home, she’ll relax with a bath, “it’s when I can breathe from the day to the night, and that means a lot to me.”
During the day, she’s Vera Wang the businesswoman. The CEO managing design teams, conducting production meetings and negotiating building leases. But during the night, all the business stuff gets put to the side and she’s simply Vera Wang the fashion designer, lying in bed sketching out designs.
My bedroom is my sanctuary. It’s like a refuge, and it’s where I do a fair amount of designing — at least conceptually, if not literally. I spread out on my side of the bed, and I may be looking at books to get ideas, or just thinking things through.How I Work | CNN Business
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