Break out your stilettos — and your wallet. Retailers all over the world were kicking off the fourth annual Fashion’s Night Out, a celebrity-studded night designed to draw shoppers into stores for a night of celebrity spotting, music, giveaways, food and drinks, and, of course, shopping.
By dusk in Paris, the luxury shopping district was awash with thousands of people — both the serious shoppers and those who just wanted to enjoy themselves.
“There are too many people here to buy clothes. But people get to know the brands, and buy another time. Today, it’s all about fun,” said Corine Marneffe, 50.
The event — launched in 2009 in New York by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour — has proven so popular that it’s now a fixture in some 19 countries, over three weeks involving tens of thousands of shoppers.
Chloe produced one of the best spectacles in Paris: A parade of dancing cheerleaders who descended in camp style from a Chevrolet truck.
If it was a bit too much for those just finishing work, free massage stations had been set up to help people de-stress.
In New York, Kim Kardashian will be signing $123 gift sets of her perfume True Reflection at Lord & Taylor, while Nicole Richie and Jennifer Hudson promote their new clothing lines at QVC. Cyndi Lauper will perform at Manolo Blahnik to promote her new musical, “Kinky Boots.”
Does all that starpower help at the register? “Ask me tomorrow,” Max Azria said with a laugh backstage before his BCBG presentation. He said it can’t hurt to meet shoppers.
Stores across the U.S. are also holding events, though they’re less star-studded. In Chicago, Saks Fifth Avenue will offer free cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and music; in Atlanta, Lenox Square Mall is giving out gift bags, will hold a fashion show at Banana Republic and offer makeup touch ups at Aveda. In Dallas, fashion shows were planned at Galleria Dallas and NorthPark Center, where the Neiman Marcus will show “The September Issue,” provide snacks and a contest for a $2,500 gift card.
The event, timed for the first day of New York Fashion Week, also coincides with the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
A Vogue spokeswoman said that Wintour is a supporter of President Barack Obama and noted that shoppers had five hours of events — plenty of time to get home to watch Obama speak if they wish. She said the event was planned a year in advance with thousands of retailers.
NBG Productions analyst Brian Sozzi said Fashion’s Night Out started inconspicuously but has gained traction over the years.
“It gets customers into stores in a non-peak hour after work and it gets them energized,” he said. “It’s a win-win for retailers who are piggy backing on Fashion’s Night Out’s own marketing so it’s not a big investment for them.”
On Twitter, Fashion’s Night Out’s hashtag, (hash)FNO, was one of the top trending keywords. Laura Ashley tweeted about goodie bags while designer shoe label Christian Louboutin shared a special Fashion’s Night Out Spotify playlist.
In Paris, “Fashion Night Out” is also an opportunity for young fashion designers to showcase their work. Rising star Anthony Vaccarello — now a staple fixture of the Paris fashion-week calendar — moved into trendy boutique Colette for the evening to show off his new work. It included an exquisite one-shoulder white satin gown.
“Here in Paris it’s about window shopping, looking, celebrating fashion. In New York, the emphasis is on purchasing. It’s just two different styles of the same evening,” said Vaccarello.
AP Fashion Writer Samantha Critchell and Retail Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this report.