Back in 2009 when Fashion’s Night Out launched, Anna Wintour, the brainchild behind the event, aimed to celebrate the fashion industry and its consumers with an all-night party at shops and department stores throughout the city, in an attempt to spruce up retail sales in the wake of the market crash. FNO’s debut that fall was a frenzy of people shop-hopping all over Manhattan, visiting their favorite boutiques, and schmoozing with legendary and up-and-coming designers, who were rewarding their fans with a ton of free goodies. It was so successful that FNO is now on its third season, kicking off Fashion Week, and has become a global fashion holiday. But though we find ourselves still in a financial crisis, retail sales are up…so what’s the point of FNO, now?
We noticed a small decline in enthusiasm last year coming from consumers and shops, or perhaps it was just a lack of organization. FNO is evolving into a union of sorts between shoppers and vendors, designers, and store owners who want to build a relationship with consumers — mostly because when people do shop these days, they’re careful about where to spend.
Having said this, FNO is a fun night for shoppers to discover new stores, meet celebrities, stylists, and designers, and, yes, get free crap — though mostly it’s free drinks, and that’s totally fine with us.
Since more stores than ever are taking part this year, we’ve narrowed down a list (in no particular order) of the shops offering the most fun. Because ultimately that’s the best part of shopping, even when you’re not spending a dime.
Someone obviously thinks of himself as Soho’s version of Simon Cowell. Tonight, beloved designer Alexander Wang hosts a talent show at his flagship store where winners can win free clothes. A nude slip dress from Wang will cost you at least $600, so for a chance to win anything remotely Wang, we’re willing to sing (badly), break-dance (sloppy), and bark (pathetically) if we must. At 7:30, Alexander Wang, 103 Grand Street.
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Fashion’s Night Out than by honoring the late Alexander McQueen and his retrospective, Savage Beauty, one of the greatest exhibitions at the Met ever. What you’ll find at the McQueen flagship is a scavenger hunt of sorts. Collect one of a limited number of FNO2011 keys containing a special code for the chance to win an Alexander McQueen Folk tote. Visit alexandermcqueenFNO2011.com to find out how to unlock the gift. At 6, Alexander McQueen, 417 West 14th Street.
If you’re not knee-deep in the fashion world, you might not recognize that name, but does Lady Gaga ring a bell? Her fashion stylist, and also the creative director at Thierry Mugler, is opening his first pop-up shop, and the preliminary look of the store is sharp, literally. The store, doubling as a fun house, has mirror panels from top to bottom. Formichetti recently told The Cut that he’ll be at the store selling his goods with a crew to support him: “My friend Rico the zombie kid [a model who is tattooed all over, including his face and skull] — I wanted him to be shop manager. And I want him to perform in there.” But will Joe Calderone make an appearance? 57 Walker Street.
In The Muppets!, out in theaters November 23, Miss Piggy plays a Vogue editor, so naturally she’d be at Fashion’s Night Out tonight posing for pictures and looking fabulous while drinking…isn’t that what fashion is all about? Illustrator Jessica Repetto will be sketching live portraits onto Band of Outsiders tote bags. A purchase gets you a free Momofuku Milk Bar cookie. Opening Ceremony at Ace Hotel, 1190-1192 Broadway.
3.1 Phillip Lim
Going from uptown to downtown is always a pain in the ass. So why not opt for riding your bike? Tonight the Phillip Lim boutique will be transformed into a “Girls on Bikes stop,” kind of like a biker bar/truck stop but with a better clothes. Lim, who designed and named the cocktails, will be on hand; drink up and don’t forget to enter the prize drawing for the Linus Bike and a FW ‘Pashli’ bag. Oh, and wear a helmet! 3.1 Phillip Lim, 115 Mercer Street.
Designer Tracy Reese hosts her 2nd annual FNO dance-a-thon, and she’ll be judging too! Guests are invited to dance throughout the store and even in the boutique’s windows. It’s starting to sound more like the red-light district than Meatpacking, but we’re game as long as the complimentary wine from Clos du Bois doesn’t stop flowing. Tonight’s party includes surprise performances, DJ Tyger Lilly spinning all night, and prizes awarded to the best dancers. Tracy Reese, 641 Hudson Street.
Customers who spend $50 will receive a free Antoinette shopping tote. DJ Chris Love will be spinning sexy house disco and funk and soul classics. Champagne will be served all night! Antoinette, 119 Grand Street, Brooklyn.
Pauly D from “The Jersey Shore” will be DJing at the Kardashian store DASH. We heard the reality star waved his $40K fee as a wedding present to Kim. We hope his playlist doesn’t suffer because of it. DASH, 119 Spring Street.
Models from America’s Next Top Model — All Stars will be giving free modeling pointers. Get your picture taken with them and partake of the light snacks and drinks to be served. Express, 584 Broadway.
Actress Rose Byrne launches her new fragrance. You can also get a sneak preview, while sipping some champagne, of the new Fall/Winter 2011-12 collection of leather goods, women’s and men’s ready to wear, fine jewelry, and furniture. Bottega Veneta, 699 Fifth Avenue.
A Little Wicked
Check out A Little Wicked’s new line of vintage fashion while style experts give you some fashion tips. Music all night, 20 percent off, and, yes, free drinks! A Little Wicked, 279 East Houston Street.
Baci Fashion Boutique
The brand new Baci Fashion Boutique will be featuring their exclusive Italian woman’s collection, accessories, handbags, and boots. With each purchase you’ll receive a kiss and Baci chocolates. The boutique will feature a digital screen art+music exhibit by Adriana Kaegi (from Kid Creole and the Coconuts), and there will be drinks and Italian snacks served in the garden. Sold! Baci Fashion Boutique, 279 Mott Street.
Alice + Olivia
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet is hosting a carnival! She’ll lead as ringmaster, of course, with carnival games, popcorn, cotton candy, drinks, raffle prizes, hair styled by Sebastian, and who knows what else. Alice + Olivia, 755 Madison Avenue.
Artists & Fleas
Brooklyn’s longest running artist, designer, and vintage market brings together more than 50 vendors to showcase new items from their Fall/Winter collections. There’s a fashion blogger preview and styling tips, plus a fashion show and DJ sets throughout the evening. Artists & Fleas, 70 North 7th Street, Brooklyn.
Patricia Field is going all out for FNO, celebrating in two locations for an evening of pierogies and vodka in honor of Veselka’s new Bowery location. You can party at her boutique and then check out the art gallery installation at Veselka. Food and drinks all night. Patricia Field Boutique, 302 Bowery, Veselka 9 East 1st Street.
Belle by Sigerson Morrison
Our college days are back with a full-on rager at Belle. This “old-school” party includes DJ sets, kegs, a menu of munchies, and an in-house tattoo artist. We love when we’re not pressured to shop. Belle by Sigerson Morrison, 28 Prince Street.
If anyone knows how to throw a fashion party, it’s Betsey Johnson. Johnson and her models will host a night of makeup by Stila Cosmetics, hair from Cutler Salon, a yogurt bar, cupcakes, champagne, and a chance to win your very own Betsey tote. Plus music by DJ Kalkutta. Betsey Johnson, 138 Wooster Street.
Apparently Coach is celebrating FNO by reissuing the Coach Duffle Sac that debuted in 1973, but we’re not really going for that. Seth Meyers will be there, and that’s enough for us. Coach, 595 Madison Avenue.
If you’re willing to risk a night of rioting Versace is the place. Drake will be acting as resident DJ. This is invitation-only, but we doubt that’ll stop the fans from showing up. Versace, 647 Fifth Avenue.
Join Shala Monroque, editor-at-large at Pop magazine, and fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson at Miu Miu, where attendees are encouraged to channel their inner muse by dressing in ’40s-inspired attire (using the Miu Miu F/W 2011 as inspiration). The winner and most creative costume will win a special prize. Miu Miu, 11 East 57th Street.
All of the department stores are hosting a slew of events, too many to list, so if you’re not up to shop-hopping and hailing cabs, we suggest staying at one of the department stores the entire night. They won’t be short of celeb appearances, drinks, food, and fun activities. Here are just a few snippets of what’s going on:
Saks Fifth Avenue: Appearances by Christian Cota, Tilda Swinton, Yigal Azrouel, Rebecca Minkoff, Andrew WK (and the Santos Party House crew), Prabal Gurung, and Ne-Yo. Get manicures, tarot card readings, and more. Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue.
Lord & Taylor: Meet Tadashi Shoji, Solange Knowles, Ivanka Trump, New York Jets cheerleaders, and more. Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue.
Bloomingdale’s: Appearances by Rachel Zoe, Diane von Furstenberg, Eddie Cibrian, and Erin Wasson, and a night of make-overs, bowling, and more. Bloomingdale’s, 1000 Third Avenue.
Bergdorf Goodman: Best in Show (dogs hit the runway!); guest judges include Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa, Santiago Gonzalez, Naeem Khan, and Monique Lhuillie. Designers: Alexandra Vidal, Badgley Mischka, Bibhu Mohapatra, Cushnie & Ochs, Joseph Altuzarra, Lela Rose, Pamella Roland, Reem Acra, and a slew of others. With music by DJ Johnny Dynell. Bergdorf Goodman, 745 Fifth Avenue.
Macy’s Herald Square: Appearances by Tommy Hilfiger, Kelly Rowland, Coco Rocha, Sandra Lee, Rachel Roy, Bobbi Brown; music by Samantha Ronson, Joss Stone, and more. Macy’s Herald Square, 151 West 34th Street.
And check out Sound of the City for more on the best music-heavy Fashion’s Night Out Events!