Since Stephanie Wei graduated from Yale in 2005 and moved to New York, she’s worked at a law firm and an investment bank. The last time she scored her golf game regularly, her handicap was 0.9, and she guesses that these days she’d be a 4 or 5 from the men’s tees. Now she works at a public relations firm, a fine perch from which to make a stab at becoming a known quantity in Manhattan young society.
“I’m finding it,” she told me. “I’m 24 still, and this the first time I’ve ever had a break in my life. It’s always been go-go-go-go-go. I wanted to rule the world at, you know, 22.”
Ms. Wei has indeed made herself a winking pulse on the party circuit. Mention her name to any wannabe fashionista socialite between the ages of 17 and 27 and they all know her. Also, men are fond of Stephanie Wei. All kinds of guys hit on her and there’s always someone she’s seeing, although she does go through stages of being asexual. Last fall, she told me, she had a fling with Heath Ledger. Since his fatal overdose in January, she says, a tabloid has been waving money at her.
On a Monday night in the middle of Fashion Week, Ms. Wei was in the two-bedroom apartment her mother bought her in the West Village. She sat on a couch sipping a vodka Red Bull and smoking Parliament Lights, while three smooth, styling guys were across the room, patiently waiting for Ms. Wei to get ready for a night out.
There was reason to celebrate: Not only had she been to the Oscar de la Renta show that day, she had lunch with the designer—well, she and eight others, but it was enough. She showed me pictures online from the de la Renta show. There was Anna Wintour, Marina Rust, Plum Sykes, Renee Rockefeller, Angie Harmon, Aerin Lauder—and several shots of Stephanie Wei. She’s a wee lass; she says she’s 5-foot-2 and 100 pounds. She has tiny hands and size five feet (“Midget feet,” she calls them.).
“It was like, older people, you know, and I was just honored to be there,” she said. “I’m, like, shocked I’m even in the pictures, you know. I’m sort of speechless in a way. I never would have imagined, you know, sitting at the Oscar de la Renta show. And then afterwards it was like, ‘Oh, do you want to come to lunch with us?’ and I was literally, like, speechless.”
She said she’d been “deathly ill” for four days and thus had missed the fashion show of Form, a design company she was doing pre-show publicity for.
“I missed my own show after working very hard for it,” she said. “It was packed, we had over 600 RSVP’s, we had to turn people away. Tyson Beckford and Niki Taylor showed up, all my friends—front row was just a bunch of my friends. I helped get some of the social people there, like Leven Rambin—All My Children, whatever—Ally Hilfiger—through a friend—Annabel Vartanian. Then I got sick. Bedridden for four days. You want any pizza?”
There was the Tory Burch show tomorrow (“I asked Chris Burch for tickets so they are hooking it up”) and that night, the BCBG party at the Bowery Hotel, Chloë Sevigny’s party at Webster Hall, something at the Rose Bar.
Ms. Wei is out almost every night at spots like the Belmont Lounge, Bungalow 8, Martignetti’s and the Beatrice Inn—although her status there has been up in the air lately. It was there that she met Mr. Ledger. She admitted to being a party girl about town.
“Yes, I am to some extent, but I feel that I don’t want to rub people the wrong way, you know, in that Olivia Palermo kind of way,” she said, referring to the socialite and aspiring actress. “I don’t need that. I don’t want to like be seen as a silly girl. And I know you don’t think of me like that.”
I shook my head.
Her cell phone rang. A guy friend, calling to inquire about a young lady. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think you’re, like, overanalyzing it,” she said into the phone. “I don’t know her well enough, but I can find out? I do know that she likes more artsy guys. I’m not saying that rules you out, Shawn, ha-ha! I’m not going to say anything! No-no-no, she’s a really good girl. I’m going to meet her later at Belmont.
“Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t text you back!” she continued. “I went to the Oscar show today and then I had lunch with him, because I’m friends with Moises [de la Renta]. My life is complete. I was star-struck. He’s an icon, you know? And you know Moises is such a nice guy, and his dad was so nice. But go to Belmont later, because I’m going to go—Louisa and Cece and I have been talking, we all want to meet up. Shawn, I never would. You can ask Justin about me: I never do. ’Bye, Shawn!”
Meanwhile, her three pals were staring at a laptop where a model friend of theirs was encircled by dozens of cans of Red Bull, and they were trying to guess exactly how many. They took a break to talk about Ms. Wei.