Fashion Show: ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ Gets Overhaul in New York

Sunday, August 22, 2010

‘Fashion’s Night Out’ Gets Overhaul in New York

WITH the second installment of Fashion's Night Out just around the corner - subtitled the Anna Wintour Shop-A-Thon to save retail - readers are being reminded Almost hourly by blogs, newspapers and even banners hanging from light posts That it is safe, once again, to Spend.

At The Same Time, They May have noticed a rash of news suggesting the Opposite: consumers are cutting back, Paring on their wardrobes, paying off debt on their credit cards and Generally hunkering down in fear of a renewed recession. In one typical example of mixed messages, the big Reveal for the Fashion's Night Out Sept. 10 party lineup (Celebrities and Events Galore at hundreds of stores Staying Open Until 11 pm) appeared in an issue of Women's Wear Daily That was otherwise dedicated to a theme of fashion frugality. "Mindless excess is over," the trend forecaster Faith Popcorn said, right there on its front page.
  • Shop less!
  • Shop more!
  • Shop smarter!
Oh, why did Cathy Guisewite have to pick this moment to announce She was giving up her "Cathy" comic strip? Who's going to make sense of a bipolar These Retailers now?

Twelve months ago, Ms.. Wintour's call to arms, and Gloves and shoes and handbags, resulted in a shopping spectacle so bonkers That A Few retail executives, including the Chiefs of major department stores, Were caught off guard. TENS of Thousands of customers swarmed aisles, clogged escalators and gawked at the pop stars, And that was just at Saks Fifth Avenue. Intermix was at capacity. There was a giddy mob on the trail of Michael Kors. It looked as if a year's worth of important life-up shopping frustrations Had been released on the Streets of SoHo. Nobody ever got this worked up about Restaurant Week.

"All of us Were amazed at the excitement and enthusiasm you saw Across the city," said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Inc. "It was energizing. Were people having fun".

But Were want not necessarily buying much. Even as Retailers prepare for a second Fashion's Night Out, there has been only anecdotal evidence That the original event Affected sales in a meaningful way. As a result, the priority this year appears to be shifting from selling expensive merchandise to creating upbeat Experiences for consumers, making Them feel as If they want are personally connecting with fashion designers - and Fashion Week, Which Begins in New York at the Same Time.

"I have five pages of events printed out in front of me," said Anne Keating, a senior vice president at Bloomingdale's. That includes Personal Appearances by Mr.. Kors, Lela Rose, Carmen Marc Valvo, John Varvatos and Tadashi (Who Will be teaching a cookie decorating); a casino night on the men's floor with actors from the HBO show "Boardwalk Empire"; and a party with GQ to Introduce a collaboration Between Levi's and Billy Reid.

"Customers like the idea of the designers, the WHO are busy doing on their shows, taking time to go to department stores," Ms.. Keating said. "People want to have direct access to fashion, and they want want it at the Same time as everyone else."

The events Announced Thus far would seem to have designers Themselves stretching thin, at least if they want on their collections have not yet finished. Elie sun will from be giving dance lessons at Saks, while Simon Spurr and Ed Westwick plays darts. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jack McCollough and Lazaro with Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, are judging karaoke at Barneys. Thakoon, Georgina Chapman and Reem Acre will of models with on their dogs at Bergdorf Goodman. Also there appears to be an unusual convergence of designer table-tennis games, with matches planned at Barneys, Bloomingdale's and the Stuart Weitzman store on Madison Avenue.

Still, There Will Be products to buy. Several stores are working with designers to create exclusive, usually Inexpensive, items this year. Jason Wu, for example, made a $ 150 doll for Bergdorf. Opening Ceremony has recruited designers to work at an indoor flea market at the Ace Hotel, Mostly items selling for under $ 100. Rodarte will from have a booth selling vintage prom gowns. Christina Tosi, the Milk Bar Momofuku, is creating a gold-dusted cookies and T-shirt combo with Band of Outsiders.

"The idea is to make this special night and make it an event," said Humberto Leon, an owner of Opening Ceremony, the WHO is planning a food carts on the neighboring streets are so That Can people still even if the hotel Participate Becomes Crowded too, as his store on Howard Street did last year.

Many stores hope to avoid the Mistakes made last year. Regardless of whether they want are actually generating sales with Fashion's Night Out, none want to lose money or, Worse, wind up with bad press. The scene at Bergdorf Goodman last year and Standard and Poor was a crush That Were there reports of trays of crystal glasses smashing to the floor and bruised egos Pls security was overwhelmed. Nevertheless, Teril Turner, a consultant for the store, was keeping details close to the vest. She refused to divulge the catering plans, but She said bite-size being Treats Were Considered.

And for the crystal?

“We will not be using plastic cups,” she said.

An earlier version of this story, citing information from Opening Ceremony, incorrectly stated that David Chang is creating the gold-dusted cookie and T-shirt combo. Christina Tosi, the chef for Momofuku Milk Bar, is making them with Band of Outsiders.

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