Fashion and Hard Work
It’s 1:04 a.m. and Stephanie Cardillo can’t sleep. Her resolute and detail-oriented mind is
dead-focused as she completes a sponsorship contact Excel spreadsheet for her upcoming
Fashion Show Production class. To her, this research is pleasant, even fun. Sleep will have its
Being raised in an extremely close-knit community in the Bronx, Cardillo always had
big dreams. Failure was not an option, and when it came to choosing a career path, she always followed success. Nurse, surgeon, doctor--these titles meant something. They were full of pride and ambition. However, there was one caveat: the uniform. In her enthusiastic and bubbly
manner, Cardillo said, “I was always a girly girl.” Although Cardillo was unsure of exactly
which vocation she would choose, she loved clothing and design. Fashion was a definite part of
who she was.
As she reached high school, Cardillo was certain that Marist College was the place to
launch her enormous goals of establishing a name for herself within the fashion realm. She had a
hunger for surrounding herself with artistic men and women and for discovering her formative
“It felt like I was living in a routine at home and I needed a change. Entering college
made me excited for new beginnings and to start a new chapter in my life,” Cardillo said.
When it came time for a real opportunity, the Silver Needle Runway was top on her list.
For the past thirty years, the Marist Fashion program has produced this event each
spring. The Silver Needle has hosted over 2,500 guests, including production professionals and press. Students and faculty produce every aspect of this show, whether it be choreography, construction of outfits, or adaptation of music playlists. To become involved with this event, candidates must apply and be accepted to the Fashion Show Production (FSP) class.
As eager as Cardillo was for her interview in the winter of freshman year, she was
unfortunately informed that she did not make the class and would not hold a position on the
team. This was merely a snag.
“When I want something, I go for it. I never tell myself I can’t do something,” Cardillo said. With this demeanor, Cardillo became the Model Coordinator her sophomore year. She assisted casting a professional model in New York City, formulated the hair and makeup
concepts for the show, and planned several other details. “I always knew leading up to
the day of the show that expectations would be high and my ability to perform would be tested.
As one of the members on the Production team, it was my job to make sure that the run of show
was executed flawlessly,” Cardillo said.
Happily wearing her headset and backstage access lanyard, waiting
for the lights to dim low, Cardillo let the adrenaline inside her run free as she called models to
walk the stage. At the close of the fashion show, she felt an indescribable bliss and hoped event
planning would be a part of her near future.
Cardillo worked last summer at Henri Bendel, a retail company that is a part of L Brands. She took her skills from Marist and performed well as a handbag-merchandising intern. As the summer came to an end, one of Cardillo’s team members informed her about a public relations position with the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She applied as soon as possible.
“It was the toughest interview I had. I really had to sell myself. I left it feeling really confident, and that following Monday, I got a call that I got the job,” Cardillo said.
On her very first day, she arrived to an array of models and paparazzi flashing cameras outside her office building.
“Everything I experienced that first day left me feeling excited to see what was to come next,” Cardillo said, elated.
From the first day with Victoria’s Secret, Cardillo was quickly launched in, working weekends and late nights, feeling more like a full-time employee than a college senior.
Describing herself as an introverted extrovert, one who is outgoing yet reclusive in her personal
attentions, Cardillo said, “From the start, I was so worried every day that my team didn’t like me
and that I wasn’t doing well at my job. I would overthink everything.” Even with this internal
battle, Cardillo’s daily behavior attracts positivity. She is genuine and knows how to live for
herself. She believes that everything in her life has happened the way it was supposed to, which
is the result of optimistic thinking and diligence. In the end, once the Victoria’s Secret Fashion
Show was completed, the viewing party was over, and it was time to say her goodbyes, she felt a
deep understanding that her efforts meant something.
Cardillo encourages young women and men to take advantage of every chance in
college. “Don’t be scared to be yourself. In order to be successful in the fashion industry, you
need to be a go-getter and maintain a clear vision of your goals,” Cardillo said.
Passionate and detailed are surely elements that define Cardillo. “You could find a bunch of things that don’t work together and she could create a masterpiece,” said longtime friend Sabrina Minafra. “She has a good eye like that.” While most college students decorate their space, Cardillo is methodical, neatly lining up her collection of designer gift boxes across her desk with string lights, a timeline of priceless personal images, and customized
blush and gold stationary. She handles everything with care.
No matter if the road is complicated and tiresome, Cardillo is reminded of an essential
message from her mother, the main provider of endless support, “Continue to reach for the stars
and never settle for anything less.” Whether it is helping friends decide on a fearless outfit for
dinner or being production director for the upcoming Silver Needle Fashion Show, she is on
the move to bigger things.
“From the first day walking into my fashion class, I felt like I belong here
and I still do until this day,” Cardillo said.