Escape from Fashion’s Night Out

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living in New York City, it’s to avoid Times Square on New Year’s Eve, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Puerto Rican Day parade and the Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center at Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, this kind of energy is exactly why I love this place.  But, there are times when you just need to get from point A to point B.   When you find yourself unintentionally caught in the revelry, you’re leveled into a human pinball.

Like this past Thursday, when on my commute to and from work I got trampled by a thousand stilettos racing for swag and free booze.

It was Fashion’s Night Out and it has officially made my list of NY Events to Avoid.

For the uninitiated, Fashion’s Night Out (or #FNO) was the brainchild of Vogue and the CFDA, designed to stimulate the fashion trade after the recession hit.  FNO kicks off NY Fashion Week and is theoretically supposed to democratize fashion so the masses can have a whiff of what traditionally has been elitist glamour.   There are a few keystone events with celebrities, designers and HRH Anna Wintour.   But the broader reality looks like a host of retailers hiring a beefy doorman, a DJ, offering unlimited Freixenet and FNO t-shirts dressed up as swag. 

I’m sure if we rolled back the clock 20 years I would have jumped at the chance to get my buzz on and rack up credit card debt.

But at this stage of my life, I would rather stick a fork in my eye.  

I like my booze top shelf.  Pandora is my DJ and too much bass gives me a headache.  I’ve got so much unnecessary junk from years of being an avid consumer, that swag makes me gag.  And since when did I need a “night” to go shopping?  Been there, done that, have the T-shirt  (without FNO thank you very much).

That said, if you can’t beat them, blog about them.  So in the spirit of adventure, armed with my iPhone and Instagram, I try to channel a little  Bill Cunningham to capture the day FNO and my walk home collided.

8:00 AM  A heap of pre-bubescantness was camped out in front of Saks.  Curious about the mismatched demographic, I asked what they were waiting for and in a unison chorus they screamed  “Darren Chriss!!!!!!” before devolving into a puddle of squee.  Awe… gleeks.  I’m ordering in for lunch.


6:00 PM  Naively, I thought I might slip in and out of Saks unsprayed and unscathed to snatch some mascara.  In my way was an unusually thick mass of PR, press and random people in black with chunky glasses. I elbowed my way thru the mob (“’xcuse me, ‘scuse me, just want mascara”) and found myself accidentally in front of Oscar de la Renta.  Hard core New Yorkers will never cop to getting celebrity tingles.  But he’s not a celebrity, he’s an icon so color me tingled.  Here’s my snap in which he looks like he’s floating as some higher meta fashion deity.

Oscar! In real life he has eyes

6:30PM There must have been a tweet about what to wear for FNO.  5th Avenue was a collage of legs, minis, stilettos, flat ombre hair, lace, black, gold, leopard and statement bags capped off with dollop of affectation.  But the must have accessory of the night was the smart phone for looking blase when you realize no one is paying attention to you.

All the participating retailers (which this year even included The Children’s Place, WTF?) rolled out the requisite FNO formula; red carpet, security, DJ, free booze and swag.  I have to ask how this makes for a good time.  For example, in what world is there ever a need for a security guy and a queue in front of Swarovski?

As you can see, I am apparently the sole FNO fun sponge.   Cha-ching was in the air, the line for Bergdorf’s was around the block and tourists were three bags deep.

Still, next year, I’m taking the subway home.