It may be difficult to imagine planning the Met Gala for Vogue, expanding Fashion Week to Lincoln Center, and running a consulting business that boasts your own name. But all of these lofty accomplishments are just par for the course for Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. Yes, SWW has become something of an industry icon, always dressed to the nines, always ready for any crazy situation (we'll let your imagination run wild with that one), and always with an engaged note-taking assistant (or two) shuffling behind her.
And so, it was with this in mind that we invited ourselves over to her immaculate Upper East Side apartment to see how this do-it-all events guru entertains in her own decked-out abode. Suffice it to say, what we found measured up to — and exceeded — our most robust expectations. Get ready for a trove of statement jewels that would make Anna Dello Russo jealous, and an art collection that could look right at home in the Met. Plus, SWW dishes her secrets for breaking into the biz, the lessons she learned at Vogue, and the city's best hidden gems.
Photographed by Mindy Best
How did you get into planning events? Tell us why production interests you.
"My first job out of college was at Sotheby’s, and it was there that I was exposed to the world of event planning as a manager of client services. Professionally, I learned so much of what I know now
about event planning in my early years at Vogue, as the magazine’s PR Manager, and then as its Special Events Director. I believe completely in formal education, but no classroom could have taught me the resourcefulness and creativity that I learned while on the job and in the company of some of the most astounding visionaries in art, design, politics, and media.
In the end, production really interests me just for that unbelievable feeling in that moment when you watch weeks, months, and sometimes even years of planning come together in one seamless event."
Donna Karan skirt and sweater, Groovy Goods by Jen Goodman necklace.
What is the key to a successful event? Any insider tips?
"Making an event successful means dedicating yourself to making it the best it can be 24/7. Working with the right people, not being afraid of doing some “heavy lifting,” and making sure everyone is on the
same page makes all the difference."
How did working at Vogue shape the rest of your career?
"Vogue is where the innovators of the fashion industry go to thrive. Working for 11 years in an environment where people are continually pushing the boundaries and originating what’s next in an industry that is diverse and robust with influential visionaries has made me a huge part of who I am. Anna Wintour truly opened my eyes to creativity, and taught me how to think and work outside the box,
encouraging me to question limits and eventually inspiring me to start my own company."
What is the best advice Anna ever gave you?
"Of all the many words of wisdom Anna instilled in me, she really put it best when she advised me to 'love what you do, and do what you love.' If you can, the rest of it manages to fall into place."
How did the move to Lincoln Center change fashion week?
"The physical layout of Lincoln Center has been an extraordinary tool in opening up the previously elusive Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to a wider community, and breaking down the walls of inaccessibility
surrounding fashion week. The Josie Robertson Plaza alone presents an inviting area for anyone and everyone to sit by the fountain and enjoy the excitement, nervousness, and chaos in the air as the shows
go on in the buildings and tents around them."
Alaîa Dress, Manolo Blahnik boots, Catherine Beth jewelry.
What is the most memorable moment from Vogue, and then from
your time at Lincoln Center?
"Having been at Vogue for 11 years, there are too many memorable moments to choose just one, but organizing The Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art each year is certainly at the top of the list of the most memorable projects I worked on. Working for the 'East Coast Oscars of
the fashion world' was truly an incredible experience. Most other events I worked on both at Vogue and Lincoln Center had philanthropic initiatives, and knowing that I helped make
a difference in the lives of others made these events truly special."
How has SWW Creative combined your interests? Tell us about this
relatively new venture and the work you do.
"SWW Creative gives me the ability to bring so many different people together in ways I never could have imagined before. Like I always say, I am a veritable Switzerland, and keeping that mindset gives me the
opportunity to work across the industries of fashion, beauty, technology, entertainment, sports, charity, and more to create unprecedented initiatives."
What is one myth about the industry you find to be true and one you hope to dispel?
"The fashion industry commands a fair share of what appears to be effortless glamour, but nothing glamorous comes without hours and hours of distinctly unglamorous behind-the-scenes work."
Cushnie Et Ochs pants, Lanvin necklace, Giambattista Valli top, Catherine Malandrino jacket, Alexander McQueen boots.
Any go-to workout and diet routines, or beauty products you love?
"In this industry, getting into a routine is tough, but trainer David Kirsch and Dr. Oz Garcia do their best to keep me healthy! As for beauty products, I love all things Le Metier de Beaute, Cle de Peau
liquid foundation, Tom Ford Ultra Shine Lip Gloss in Rose Crush, and Trish McEvoy mascara."
You've played consummate hostess in many aspects of your professional life, and, we assume, personal, too. Any tips for throwing a great holidayparty?
"When it comes to entertaining in my personal life, I’m most concerned about entertaining my kids — I have enough fun socializing at the many holiday parties I’m lucky enough to attend through work!"
When you get down time, what are your favorite NYC activities?
"Any downtime usually involves snuggling up on the couch with my kids, but over the holidays, my most treasured tradition is the enchanting experience of seeing the play Annie with my family. One of the best things about NYC is the plethora of events — from Broadway plays with my daughter to WWE matchups with my sons, the entertainment in this city never ends."
Oscar de la Renta jacket, Ralph Lauren pants, Céline shirt, Vera Wang heels and necklace.
What are your favorite stores or designers in NYC?
"I always love a good trip to Bergdorf’s or Saks — one-stop shopping with unbeatable customer service. For homey gifts, I can always find something at Treillage. Of course, I could never have a favorite designer as I love them all, but Tom Ford, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren take up a good bit of my
wardrobe due to an unfailingly good fit."
How would you describe your personal style and your home decor aesthetic? Do they coincide?
"I’m inclined towards the clean lines of the '40s and '50s, married with a 1970s approach to color. One of my favorite pieces at home is a pair of art deco chairs that my husband found at the Armory Art Show to accent the living room. The décor in our apartment is scarily reflective of my wardrobe."
What advice can you give to people looking to follow your career path? Who are you hoping to work with in the future?
"I think the best advice that I can give is to always remember that hard work really pays off. I worked through decades of long, hard nights to get where I am now, and I can tell you it’s worth it. The greatest thing about my new company is that I have the ability to work with so many different people and
industries — the future can truly take me anywhere."