Vera Wang: Designing woman

It was the difficulty of finding a wedding dress, when Vera Wang was getting married in 1989 (she opted to design her own), that spurred the creation of her bridal business.
CBS News

(CBS News) Expect a final wave of June weddings today, with at least some of the brides wearing gowns designed by Vera Wang. She's put her own unique stamp on bridal apparel, and this morning Rita Braver will be taking her measure:

Here come the gowns! Vera Wang bridal gowns, to be exact.

And from her new black-and-white fantasies, to her red creations of the past, to more traditional froths of white, Vera Wang has become synonymous with the best in bridal wear.

There's no question about the level of detail that goes into these dresses, hand-made in a New York workshop -- and on display, like museum pieces, at Wang's flagship Madison Avenue boutique.

"You know, every one of these dresses has its own proportion, its own personality, its own balance," said Wang.

And a hefty price tag as well. The average cost: nearly $6,000.

They've been worn by brides like Chelsea Clinton, Kim Kardashian, and Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings.

"I think Vera herself is an icon," Miller told Braver. "I mean, she is Vera, she is forward-thinking. You can count on her to make you really look and feel beautiful in your wedding day, but at the same time you feel modern. I think that's such a delicate balance to strike."

So you might be surprised to learn that Vera Wang did not set out to be a designer. Her first passion was figure skating.

"I fell in love with the freedom, the wind in my face, the gliding," Wang said. "It was something that gave a way to express myself physically and somewhat artistically."

But failing to achieve her dream of making the 1968 U.S. Olympic team was "devastating."

"Here I'd devoted my life, since I was seven years old, to one goal," Wang said. "And for me, falling and picking myself up, and not getting defeated and going back, has been a metaphor for my life -- that everything doesn't or can be easy, and it's about coming back and trying again."

What she wanted to try was fashion.

A model walks the runway during the Vera Wang 2014 Bridal Spring/Summer collection show on April 19, 2013 in New York City. Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

She went off to study in Paris, but it was NOT a career that pleased her wealthy Chinese immigrant parents -- especially her Dad, who had founded a pharmaceutical company.

"I think he thought it was frivolous, that fashion was frivolous," Wang told Braver. "They had really thought that probably I would, you know, go to Yale Law School."