FNO began two years ago as a global initiative to spur interest – and thus dollars – in the fashion industry. It was slated to kick off New York Fashion Week. New York City, where I attended FNO, was alive with fashionistas, models and editors who were in town for Fashion Week and participating shops that kept their doors open for extended shopping hours. Some stores held full-on parties. Liquor flowed, bands played and celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and fashion lent cache to the event that was attended largely by people with a decided interest in fashion. While I have never read whether the first FNO was a success from a bottom line perspective, it was an outstanding success from a public relations one.
Last year, FNO was even bigger than the year before. More stores participated, more celebrities made appearances and the crowds, while still largely comprised of people who love and live fashion, swelled.
Fashion’s Night Out 2011 took a left turn this year as everyone wanted in on the action. More shops participated including those not involved with fashion, at least not in the traditional sense. For example, Band-Aid had a presence on Fifth Avenue in midtown and, while I didn’t get close enough to investigate just what it is they were promoting, I hope I won’t be wearing it anytime soon. Nevertheless, I think that’s good for business and FNO is all about business – the glamourous business of fashion, yes, but business nevertheless. But this year, the crowds and the vibe were different from past FNOs. In midtown, in the early hours of Fashion’s Night Out 2011, attendees came out to see and be seen. I stopped to talk to a number of people, all of whom had a destination and route in mind. Whether they were heading to Chanel, Dior, Versace, Bergdorf Goodman’s or any of the other bastions of fashion and style, the people I spoke with loved fashion. That did not appear to be the case as my evening progressed …
My first stop was at Adriana Marie Co. (AMCo.) to meet the designer behind the fabulous brand of graphic art tees. Adriana’s event was at Opia Restaurant on 57th Street where she showed her new line, which now includes tee shirt dresses and hoodies, to a large and enthusiastic crowd of shoppers, editors and bloggers who loved the designs, as did I.
Opia’s second floor, where Adriana held her event, was filled with other vendors, some in the fashion industry; some not. It was a beautiful carnival and the atmosphere was charged with excitement and anticipation. I also stopped by SA VA, a socially conscious clothing and accessories brand. Sarah van Aken, whose title on her business card reads “ceo and community activist” – how cool is that? SA Va is a label with real integrity. – showed me some of her latest designs of comfortable, stylish and flattering clothing. Loved many of her amazing Philadelphia-made cotton dresses.
Flattering, affordable, fair trade … it’s all good – and I have to have at least one.
Back on 57th Street, the crowds swelled as I made my way to Chanel. I was unable to get near the store last year and, sadly, that was the case this year. The lines were long and six-people deep so I headed to Burberry’s where the essence of FNO was in full retail swing and the longest lines were at the cash registers. I popped into Louis Vuitton for a quick peek at what was going on and saw shoppers doing what they do best. Heading downtown on Fifth Avenue, the sidewalks were filled as fashionable shoppers and revelers participated in the city’s biggest party. Photographers gladly obliged those who dressed for attention by snapping their pics and the crowds, while obviously excited about FNO, were controlled.
I hit Saks Fifth Avenue and stopped by the Burberry counter where the company’s new cosmetics line was unveiled for the first time. Then it was on to Estee Lauder where Tom Pecheux, creative makeup director, had just left. Oh well. I would have loved to have had my makeup done by him since I was heading for QVC’s Fashion’s Night Out 2011 event downtown in minutes.
Midtown is my stomping ground. I worked there for years and currently live there and, in my opinion, it’s the best place to be for Fashion’s Night Out. Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf’s, Barney’s, Bendels, Saks, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s all held events as did most of the designers’ shops. But I didn’t linger as I had to get to Soho. I finally grabbed a cab and then proceeded to sit in traffic for 45 minutes. I was with both of my daughters – so glad that Tori was able to come in for FNO; Emily and I shared the experience for the past two years, as did my husband who actually likes the event, lucky me. The QVC event was held at the Suspenders Building on Broadway near Canal Street in Soho and, after my fabulous experience at their Fashion’s Week kickoff party last February, I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. The traffic had other ideas …
We decided to walk but, yeah, the street traffic had other ideas. I became a human power drill and muscled my way through the crowds. New Yorkers and visitors to the city love New York because, despite its dense population, New York is really about its separate neighborhoods, each having its own ambience and flavor. Downtown is hip, edgy, artistic but on Fashion’s Night Out 2011 it was out of control. I don’t know how many retailers actually turned a profit downtown. It seemed as if everyone was on the streets and not in the stores. The sidewalks were just about impassable, clogged with rowdy people. While the liquor flowed freely in the stores, many people in the Soho streets brought their own. I love Soho and the usual crowds, but on this night, I wished to be back in midtown. It was too much. It seemed as if the majority of people on the streets were interested only in a huge block party and not at all in what was happening in the shops.
The QVC event was mobbed. The line to get in wrapped around the block. Luckily, I had an invitation. Readers will remember that I was chosen to appear in a QVC ad for Vogue Magazine with three other women who have become my close friends. (I know, I know. I don’t let readers forget!) We also appeared on QVC’s National Makeover Day show this past April and QVC had our Vogue ad blown up to room size proportions and made into a light board. It was quite astounding to see and was visible from everywhere in the huge space that is the Suspenders Building’s first floor and from out on the street through the buildings floor to ceiling windows. I went up to the security guy at the door, told him my name was on the list, but if he didn’t want to bother to look, there was my face on the ad behind him. I got right in!
The first thing I did was meet up with the other “Vogue girls” as Dennis Basso, designer extraordinaire with whom we appeared in the Vogue ad, dubbed us. The four of us had become close friends thanks to our QVC adventures. Read about them here. Rocio Rivera, Mary Martha Douglas and Christine Kennedy excitedly told me that they had just had a photo op with Anna Wintour and Heidi Klum. Damn FNO traffic which prevented me from being part of it. We had been texting all night and their texts came fast and furious. “Get down here. We’re with ANNA!” “Hurry up. We’re taking pics with Heidi.” My heart sank as the traffic suspended all forward movement of my cab, but I was thrilled that the others got this great opportunity, courtesy of QVC and Jamie Falkowski, QVC’s director of media relations. We love you Jamie!
The rest of my evening was great as I mingled with hundreds of beautiful people who came out for the QVC event. There was a famous face at every turn, Kathy Griffin took photos from QVC’s Tweetdeck – and I got a great photo of her. Heidi Klum was there to share her jewelry line with QVC viewers and yes, she is incredible in person as is Sarah Jessica Parker who was there to not only to promote her movie, I Don’t Know How She Does It, but also because she is such a fashion
icon. Elegant QVC host Courtney Cason captured some great SJP moments in a wonderful interview. Everyone was dressed for a party and that’s exactly what they got. As QVC aired a live FNO show hosted by the always amazing and beautiful Lisa Robertson, models strutted in the newest fashions and accessories from QVC vendors. Upstairs, QVC had beauty bars set up where vendors not only showed their wares but shared them with anyone who wanted beauty advice or a quickie makeup lesson. It was fun!
Dennis Basso, an icon in the fashion industry who is known for his way with fur, has a beautiful line of faux fur outerwear on QVC and who recently introduced a line of ready to wear for the online shopping giant, was gracious as always and greeted us as if we were long lost and beloved friends. I cannot speak highly enough of Dennis. I’ve written that he has a wonderful way of making you feel as if you are the only one in the room when he engages you in conversation. He is generous with his time and with his friendship. We all adore him and were so happy to see him again. And he was genuinely happy to see us, as were all of the QVC people we saw that evening. Howard Schiller, creative director and Amy McManus, greeted us warmly and it was great to see them again. Thank you guys for everything. Words don’t do justice to how amazing the entire experience of the QVC/Vogue photo shoot and Makeover Show were.
I had heard people on the street saying that the QVC event was far and away the best thing happening in Soho. I don’t doubt that this was true. The beautifully dressed crowd, the opportunity to mingle with some of the best designers in the business and to watch a live show being presented right before our eyes made for quite the party.
FYI, in the spirit of giving back, QVC is selling a Vogue-designed Fashion’s Night Out scarf, the net proceeds of which will benefit “Fashion Targets Breast Cancer,” the charitable initiative of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), for all sales through the end of 2011.
Since my feet were killing me and I had to be up early the next morning, I reluctantly parted ways with my QVC friends and headed into the street for a cab. It was after midnight and, while the crowd had thinned, the streets were still packed and I couldn’t get a cab. It was the subway for us.
It was like no subway ride I had ever experienced. Anyone who says New Yorkers are cold and mean does not know New Yorkers. The party continued on the subway as strangers shared their experiences of Fashion’s Night Out 2011 with one another. I couldn’t help but notice the hot Loubs on the guy sitting across from me. Here’s his pic. People turned it out for FNO.
I don’t know how, if at all, FNO affected retail’s bottom line. I do however think that it’s gotten a bit off track this year and that Anna (or someone) has to reign it in next year and bring FNO back to its original intention. If attendees are interested only in hugging the sidewalk in one huge block party and the stores, with doors wide open, stay empty, Fashion’s Night Out 2011 has accomplished nothing.
For me, aside from my wonderful experiences at Adriana Marie Co., my midtown stops and the ambience there and, of course, the amazing QVC event, Fashion’s Night Out 2011 was not nearly as much fun as it had been for the past two years.
To read about that, check out these related posts:
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