At 7 a.m.: Home Time
I wake up around 7 and spend the morning catching up on emails, texting, and reading anything I want to study closely. I’m on the phone with some of my top staffers to discuss business things that I don’t otherwise get to throughout the day. My favorite thing to eat for breakfast is an omelet with a little toast and maybe a slice—just one—of bacon. Oddly enough, lately I have also developed this thing for vanilla pudding packs. They’re all chemicals, I’m sure, but I love the taste, and they’re very filling until lunch.
At 9 a.m.: Laser Focus
Once I get to the office, it’s hard to describe a typical day—except for when we’re working on a show, and then the collection takes precedence over everything else. The nature of how much faster our business is today means I work on a very tight schedule, and this is when I collaborate closely with the design team.
At 12 p.m.: Soup Or Salad
I rarely get to leave the office. Usually I work right through the entire day, even during the fitting of a dress on a model. But 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. I go through periods of Japanese for six months, or sometimes it’s a favorite Jewish deli for chicken soup with lots of vegetables. I love that in the winter because it just feels like it’s keeping you from getting a cold.
At 4 p.m.: Buck Stops Here
The day is pretty intense, with all the juggling and so many hats to wear. Because my company is privately owned and I am the CEO, all the responsibility of running it falls onto me, so I also have meetings about production, employees, leases, or how a certain division is doing financially. The pressure is very real, but it’s nice having your name on the door.
At 6 p.m.: Always On
I try to leave the office at about 6, but prior to any collection, god only knows. Frequently, out of sheer paranoia, I’ll work Saturday and Sunday. We do one line every 12 weeks, between bridal and ready-to-wear.
At 9 p.m.: Home Life
My daughters [Cecilia, 26, and Josephine, 23] have their own lives, so I try to catch up with them on Sunday nights when I have friends over and my cook does homemade Chinese food. I always hated Sundays when I was in school, so I thought this was a nice way to enjoy them. And during the week, there are so many events—you always feel like there’s something you have to attend.
My father taught me to work hard and be patient, but Woody Allen gave me some advice too. He said, “Vera, after five or six hours, you are no longer productive,” and I said, “I have to work longer than you because I’m not Woody Allen!” Those are very different kinds of advice, and I pay attention to one but not the other.
HOW I ENGAGE
I’m not a huge exercise person, but I love to play golf at Liberty National, in Jersey City, N. J., or at Atlantic Golf Club in the Hamptons if I happen to be out there. I’m terrible but enthusiastic.
HOW I REVIVE
Bathing, but not in the complicated ritualistic way of the Japanese, is one of my favorite things. It feels like a mini-spa. The other is having my hair blown out. I have such long, thick hair that some days I want to chop it all off. Sitting there is an annoyance, but at the same time, I am able to get a lot of work done.
WHAT INSPIRES ME
Art makes me think of things in a different way, intellectually and visually. I recently bought a Lucio Fontana painting that I had been looking at for years, and it has taken me another two months to figure out how to frame it, so that has been a whole issue. I’m fascinated to see so many people going to museums today. It’s encouraging that in a world of disposability, so many people are valuing permanence.
HAUTE ROAD TRIP
I’m slogging through a collection right now, and it’s rough, so I gave myself a teensy break to go to the couture shows in Paris. The designs are so elevated and beautifully made, and most of those houses actually sell their clothing to their clients. So much of ready-to-wear is just used to promote these days. Couture reminds me of the importance of creating.
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. People might think that when you license your name, you just get a check, but that’s not the reality. You have to create a vision for all of these specific products and keep them consistent. The real work begins when you finish a deal.