L.A. STORY

With her new lux­u­ri­ously min­i­mal­ist home, VERA WANG, a life­long New Yorker, heads for the hills

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - TALKING POINT - Text by DEREK BLAS­BERG Pho­to­graphs by DOU­GLAS FRIED­MAN

era Wang is ready to dis­cuss her lat­est pur­chase: a sleek four-be­d­room house in Bev­erly Hills. Well, al­most. Be­fore she be­gins, she’d like to clar­ify two par­tic­u­lar points. Num­ber one, she is not mov­ing to Los An­ge­les, and two, “I am not the sort of woman who would wear high heels with a bathing suit. Let’s get that straight right now.” (More later on the re­mark­ably fit 62-year-old de­signer’s bathing-suit shot.) But the rea­son be­hind her new real es­tate is sim­ply to have a place to un­plug from the non-stop Man­hat­tan whirl, not to aban­don it en­tirely. “It’s a Zen es­cape,” she ex­plains.“new York for me is about work. If L.A. were to be­come a West Coast ver­sion of that, I’d shoot my­self. The cli­mate, the life­style— it all re­ally fits as the yin to my New York yang.”

This is hardly Wang’s first fling with the West Coast. The de­signer had wanted a house in L.A. for 10 years. Last Au­gust, her long search came to a happy end. “I looked and looked, but when I found this one, I felt so im­me­di­ately com­fort­able be­ing i n i t,” she says. Her vi­sion of per­fec­tion is a light-drenched aerie with floor-to-ceil­ing glass walls that over­looks the Los An­ge­les Basin and the Pa­cific Ocean, a sweep­ing view that she deems “in­sane”. The midcen­tury-mod­ern abode in Trous­dale Es­tates was built in 1967, and is cl assi c Richard Neu­tra- es­que Hol­ly­wood. To wit, Burt Reynolds is one of its pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pants, a fact that amuses Wang greatly.

The man re­spon­si­ble for get­ting her into the prop­erty is L.A. home de­signer Steve Her­mann, who shares her lean and mean aes­thetic, and re­cently com­pleted a three- year ren­o­va­tion of the house. “I just got him, and I just got it,” she says. “I loved his abil­ity to do mod­ern in a l i ght way that’s also ex­tremely so­phis­ti­cated.” Most of all, she loves that glo­ri­ous view. “That’s what won it for me,” says Wang. “I need a place to visu­ally es­cape.”

She may be new to the 90210 zip code, but she isn’t one of those black­clad New York­ers who re­flex­ively re­coil from all things Golden State. She’s a fan of both Mal­ibu and Venice Beach and has dressed her fair share of Hol­ly­wood brides. Two years ago, she opened a store on Mel­rose Av­enue, and as a de­signer to whom ac­tresses flock for that per­fect red­car­pet look, she’s spent many an awards sea­son hun­kered down in a t em­po­rary HQ with r acks of gor­geous gowns. But this past year, while in town for the Os­cars—you can thank Wang for San­dra Bul­lock’s tri­umphant lip­stick-red strap­less gown—she fi­nally had enough of ho­tel liv­ing. “It’s dif­fi­cult to re­lax in a ho­tel lobby, not know­ing who you’re go­ing to bump into,” says Wang. “And no mat­ter how great

a suite is, af­ter a while you start to go a lit­tle psy­cho.”

An­other perk of hav­ing a house in L.A., ac­cord­ing to Wang, is never hav­ing to fight over the best lounge chair at a ho­tel pool. On that sub­ject, just how did she find her­self pos­ing for this story in a swim­suit? “I wanted to wear a corset from Alexan­der Wang, whom I like a great deal,” Wang ex­plains. “I was think­ing it would be over a leg­ging or a boy­ish short, but the next thing I knew, I was there in a swim­suit.” She con­tin­ues with a laugh, “The funny thing is that I’m the girl whom no one sees at the beach. Ask any­one who’s trav­elled with me. Nor­mally, I’m in so many lay­ers, I look like Lawrence of Ara­bia!” Asked if she’s im­pressed with the re­sults, as some­one even half her age should be, she sighs. “No, honey, I’m a lit­tle hor­ri­fied. But I still love that bustier.”

Even away from the pool, Wang has never shied away from risks. The Fall 2012 bridal show did not have a sin­gle white dress in it. “I love a black wed­ding dress,” she chirps. It’s the bridal busi­ness that gave her her start in 1990, and made her name a brand recog­nised world­wide. Now she sits atop a nearly-bil­lion-dol­lar-a-year em­pire span­ning bridal, ready-to-wear, fra­grances, and home. It runs the gamut from cou­ture-qual­ity wed­ding dresses to lower-priced lines for David’s Bridal and Kohl’s. But per­haps her most in­ter­est­ing bal­anc­ing act is sell­ing an in­ter­na­tional ver­sion of glam­our while r e t a i ni ng her fiercely in­de­pen­dent per­sonal style.

“Glam is not my mid­dle name,” Wang dead­pans of her per­sonal style. She prefers dif­fer­ent ad­jec­tives: “Artsy, sub­ver­sive, min­i­mal­ist, street.” She’s amused to hear her tastes de­scribed as “cou­ture Goth teenager” and says that since she has be­come the au­thor­ity on so­phis­ti­ca­tion, she’s mov­ing in a di­rec­tion more in line with her own pref­er­ences. “I make things of my own that aren’t that glam,” she says, “but I’m not known for that, which has al­ways been a bit of a frus­tra­tion for me.” Though her ready-to-wear clothes have long in­cluded a hint of edge, her lat­est Spring col­lec­tion pushed it even fur­ther with a de­con­structed, sporty aes­thetic.

As for her own closet, Wang makes no se­cret of her af­fec­tion for fel­low de­signer Rick Owens, who i s in­ci­den­tally a for­mer An­ge­leno now based in Paris; clearly there’s a prece­dent for a darker ver­sion of Socal cool. “I think of him as an artist who em­braces his own vi­sion and has the courage to fol­low through,” she says. Her favourite Owens pieces are his sig­na­ture slouchy T-shirts, which she sleeps in and owns in a typ­i­cally moody pal­ette of blacks and greys. For day, she mixes those with her own designs and the oc­ca­sional Azze­dine Alaïa show­stop­per. “I know Stephanie Sey­mour is his big­gest muse,” says Wang of Alaïa, “but I might be his big­gest cus­tomer.”

Still, the dress code in L. A. is no­to­ri­ously more lax than in New York, which is some­thing Wang, a self­de­scribed sweat­pants afi­cionado, could get into. She also looks for­ward to en­ter­tain­ing, specif­i­cally with in­ti­mate din­ners un­der the stars. How­ever, Wang isn’t sure if she en­vi­sions her­self tak­ing to other Cal­i­for­nian cus­toms, like hit­ting the trails in the scenic canyons. Her pro­fessed favourite West Coast ac­tiv­i­ties—swim­ming, sun­ning, cruis­ing around in her Mercedes G-wa­gen, and, of course, shop­ping— are some­what less ac­tive. “I could hike down my hill, but it would take ev­ery ounce of stamina I have,” she says, smil­ing. “And hik­ing back up would prob­a­bly kill me.”

“I’m the girl whom no one sees at the beach. Ask any­one who’s trav­elled with me. Nor­mally, I’m in so many lay­ers,

I look like LAWRENCE OF ARA­BIA!”

White on: Wang’s bright and beau­ti­ful kitchen. Dress and belt, Azze­dine Alaïa. Bracelet, Van Cleef & Ar­pels. Pumps, Giuseppe Zan­otti De­sign.

Movie night in the

screen­ing room. Gown, Vera Wang. Bracelets and ring, Van Cleef & Ar­pels.

Shoes, Chris­tian Louboutin.

The en­try­way of her new

Cal­i­for­nia abode. Skirt,

` 44,310 (approx), and vest,

Rick Owens. Bracelet, Van Cleef & Ar­pels. Rolex

watch, Her­mès bag, and Ann De­meule­meester boots, Wang’s own. See Where to Buy for de­tails. Hair: Anh Co Tran; makeup: Deon Jones; in­te­rior styling:

Breezy, USA.

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