Four years ago when Vogue‘s Anna Wintour created Fashion’s Night Out in New York City, retailers celebrated with shoppers hitting the racks to pick up clothes on that special night. Soon the FNO bug spread throughout the world and, of course, Dallas.
Thursday it created major challenges in the parking lots of area retailing centers and high-density traffic in the common areas of those centers. Why, one gray-haired gentleman in a mega BMW was prohibited from entering Highland Park Village by a policeman because there was no parking available. “But I have reservations at Cafe Pacific!” Still no luck. He was advised to find parking on one of the neighborhood side streets.
Luckily, some nonprofits managed to be part of various venues. Simply Summer. . . Fashionable Fall‘s co-chairs Leigh Bailey, Emily Eisenhauer and Kim Lewis-Gleason decided to take advantage of the fashion big event and arranged to commandeer Neiman Marcus NorthPark’s NM Cafe on the third level for their Turtle Creek Recovery Center fundraising efforts. (In the past, SS…FF has taken place in late August on its own.) One poor soul, who is relatively new to NM NP, thought the entire upper level of the store was dedicated to SS…FF, as he got off the escalator to a mass of people with drinks in hand. Interesting sight, but more about that later.
Once inside the NM Cafe, the usual tables and chairs were nowhere to be seen. Rather, a few high-tops and chairs were scattered around the room because this was not a sit-and-chat type party. It was a stand-chat-drink-and-head-to-the NP fashion extravaganza in the center court. Naturally there was a lineup at the bar for the usual drinks and some tasty summery concoctions that included a juicy slice of watermelon.
To ensure the tempo was upbeat, DJs Jennifer Miller and Paul Paredes kept the music going non-stop with the type of energy and personality they’re known for.
Before the co-chairs could even be assembled for a group photo, a gentleman announced that guests were to follow a gal costumed as a leopard to the fashion show. Like three-week-old kittens, guests started following the catwoman as she weaved in and out of the hoards filling the NP hallways. Alas, some of the kittens couldn’t keep up with the rest of the litter and found themselves among the masses on the wrong side of the roped-off “reserved seating area.” No one could see where the entry to the area was. What’s a lost kitten to do?
Co-chair Emily to the rescue. The little blonde squeezed between a group of non-reserved types, unlatched the velvet rope and let the lost kittens enter the world of seats and elevated staging.
As the lost kitties tried to find their seats, men brought in NM gift bags on poles long enough to hook Moby Dick. Held high over head, the poles reminded you of the pole vaults of the past Olympics. But what treasures were in the silver NM bags? Still another gift bag from Kiehl with a coupon for an eye treatment and a couple of samples of Abyssine Cream and more coupons for NM Beauty VIP on September 8, Uptown Popcorn, Tart Bakery, Tiff’s Treats, Fizziwig’s Candy Factory and Trailer Cakes. No one was going to starve in the days ahead.
As the crowds grew, familiar faces were seen in the seats. Celebrity Waiters Luncheon Co-chair Maggie Cooke Kipp was reviewing Friday’s Celebrity Waiters Luncheon with Celeb Waiter/jeweler Shona Gilbert. NP Social Media Mastermind/British cutie James Shackelford maneuvered through the crowd of well-dressed types snapping photos on his iPhone. NP General Manager Billy Hines moseyed through making sure all things were buttoned up, as the crowds grew and grew and grew.
Then NP’s fashion arbitrator Victoria Snee in a Roberto Cavalli and WFAA’s Ron Corning introduced the first of the evening’s three shows. Unlike the earlier day’s Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show that showcased one specific designer for more than 15 minutes, this show seemed to hardly start before it was over. Ah, but it provided a smattering of what hidden delights lay on the NM racks.
After the show, some of the SS guests headed back to the NM Cafe for refreshments, but they discovered that many non-SS were going to NM, too. Not to NM Cafe. Just to NM. Why, the NM cosmetic department took on the look of a bar with hands holding bottles and glasses of refreshments.
And that’s where the earlier, above-mentioned “interesting sight” comes in. It was interesting to note the number of people filling NP on a weekday night. Think the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Only problem? Not that many folks had shopping bags. In fact, shopping bags almost appeared to be an endangered species on this most special of fashion nights. Retailers are always happiest when they see shopping bags hanging on customers’ arms.
But, hey, the purpose of FNO is to get folks revved up about the fall season and clothes. Hopefully, they’ll return when things aren’t quite as congested. Or perhaps FNO has become more of an entertainment venue as opposed to a shopper’s delight. Interestingly, that was the Huffington Post’s review of New York City’s FNO. Perhaps Dallas has more in common with the Big Apple than folks realize.