C. C. Wang, who died September 14 at 87, was a Chinese immigrant who became wealthy running a large trading company in Asia, then backed his daughter Vera Wang's wildly successful bridal fashion business.
"He never expected to own a fashion company," Vera Wang told the Wall Street Journal. "He didn't want to fund it."
It was only at her father's insistence that Vera Wang specialized in bridal wear when she opened her first salon in the Carlyle Hotel in 1990. Only when he became ill a few years ago and his control of the company relaxed did Vera Wang introduce a line of ready-to-wear clothing, she said.
Cheng Ching Wang was born in Beijing in 1918. His father at one time was a high official under Chiang Kaishek, and Wang served in the Chinese nationalist army.
In 1943, Wang arrived in America to study chemical engineering at MIT. Wang and three MIT classmates in 1947 founded the Summit Industrial Company, the name being a portmanteau of sum + MIT. Summit had a wide variety of ventures, including a scheme to turn corn oil into kerosene, as well as the export of pharmaceuticals, telecommunications equipment, and consumer goods.
It grew rapidly as economies in East Asia picked up steam in the wake of the war. Wang became wealthy enough to own a showplace on Park Avenue, as well as homes in Southampton, Palm Beach, Singapore, Shanghai, and Westchester, where he had a 100-acre estate and his own semi-private nine-hole golf course.
Wang had long been a devoted follower of high fashion, and routinely sent his wife and daughter to Paris for their clothes. He bridled when his daughter asked him to send her to design school, and told her, "Get a job," she recalled.
After she spent nearly two decades as a fashion editor at Conde-Nast and a designer at Ralph Lauren, he finally relented and funded Vera Wang's wedding business. She credits her current success to his insistence on a single focus. "I never would have made it in the ready-to-wear business without doing bridal," she said.
C.C. Wang died on the eve of Vera Wang's show of her spring line in the middle of New York's fashion week in September. An emotional Ms. Wang dedicated the show to his memory.