Meet Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the Ego-tamer, Ringmaster and Floor-sweeper of Fashion Week

Fashion’s Power Forward

While Fashion Week may be a few days longer now and may feel bigger (the tents certainly are), the number of shows in its main hub hasn’t grown materially since Ms. Wolkoff entered the mix. The total number of designers showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week itself has remained pretty much the same—the big explosion has been predominantly offsite. In 2007, when Fashion Week was still at Bryant Park, 90 designers showed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week while 165 showed offsite. Last year, 91 designers showed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center and 231 showed offsite, according to data from the Fashion Calendar, a fashion event scheduler, and IMG.

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(Emily Anne Epstein)
(Emily Anne Epstein)

Many of the designers opting to show offsite are looking for a particular sense of place; a mythology that matches their brand. “I always dreamed about being a part of Bryant Park, and when Fashion Week lost its location, I was really bummed about it. I lived for that moment,” said Nary Manivong, an emerging designer who has chosen to show his work offsite and off-schedule.

Of course, nobody can keep everyone happy, and Ms. Wolkoff is aware of that. She’s not interested in reclaiming defectors. She is interested in making sure the event goes off seamlessly.

“I stay in control of every little thing,” said the maestro of Post-it notes, corkboards and carefully stacked folders. “I want to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. If I could delegate a little better, I would be better off.”

She is well-known for indifference to the theatrics so often associated with fashion, calling herself an industry “Switzerland.” “There’s no drama,” Elle’s creative director, Joe Zee, told The Observer. “Whatever is happening behind the scenes, everything still feels very put together.”

Every detail is per Ms. Wolkoff’s design, said associates, one of whom likened her preparedness to that of a Boy Scout. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to put my hands up in the air and say, ‘too bad,’ you know, or ‘It’s not my job,’” Ms. Wolkoff said. “There were times when I’d be sweeping the floor before an event if the floor was dirty. I wouldn’t wait for someone to come into the room and do it themselves.”

Meet Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the Ego-tamer, Ringmaster and Floor-sweeper of Fashion Week