Style gone wild to kick off Fashion Week

With the sound of hundreds of stilettos hitting the pavement mixed with the smell of cigarettes and high-end perfume, Soho was clogged with hundreds of fashionistas celebrating New York’s largest economy-boosting event, Fashion’s Night Out.

Hordes of people not only speaking English, but also French and Russian, editors checking their Blackberries, photographers following cars, six-foot-tall, bony models taking pictures and 20-somethings clad in black packed the chaotic streets. People in search of deals, celebrities and parties brought this disarray to Manhattan on Friday night.

For the typical St. John’s University student, the sight was overwhelming.

“The crowds were massive,” said sophomore David Stewart. “Fashion’s Night Out was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever been to. There’s energy about, and everyone is just having a good time.”

Stores such as H&M lured customers to spend money by offering discounts on various items. Retail workers for Steve Madden passed scratch & shop cards to get shoppers excited for even more significant deals.

The Japanese brand Uniqlo, based in Soho, attracted many shoppers from across the globe with their low deals with capris starting from $7.99.

TopShop entertained their shoppers with multiple booths on each floor. From Popchips and exotic square sandwiches topped with ham and asparagus to free drinks for the 21+ crowd courtesy of BULLDOG Gin, TopShop mixed elements of style and entertainment to allure crowds.

“Each store seemed like a party with the DJs and big crowds,” said sophomore, Paula Hertfelder. “It was a fun way to shop.”

MoMA Design Store offered an interpretation of a controversial piece by Yoko Ono in 1965. Editors, photographers, and art-enthusiasts alike filled the store and drank champagne as designers shared their inspirations.

Madewell had a stream of shoppers lined to the corner of the street, eager to join the launch party of their new line designed by Alexa Chung.

The British fashionista was spotted outside of American Apparel, which was infiltrated with hordes of hipsters decked out in stripes and skinny jeans walking along Spring Street.

As the night passed, the crowds were larger than ever with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the afterparties. Stewart attended the Ralph Lauren party where he spotted celebrities such as Jessica Alba and the Olsen twins enjoying a free concert by musician Janelle Monae.

“Ralph Lauren opened up the front windows of their store so people in the crowd could take pictures and hear the concert,” said Stewart.

Despite being packed like sardines in the crowd, Stewart admits he enjoyed the chance to see celebrities such as Kanye West and Karl Lagerfeld. Stewart claims the greatest moment of the night was watching Elijah Wood DJing in the corner at the Adidas store on Broadway.

“There were so many celebrities at Fashion’s Night Out,” said Stewart. “It was a great event and there was definitely excitement in the air.”

By 10 p.m., shoppers migrated towards the Meatpacking District for a night out on the town. Passing by Alexander McQueen’s boutique on West 14th street, fashion insiders decked in party attire could be seen hitting the streets.

From B-lister models photographed in front of Jeffrey’s, to basketball players running into the cobblestoned pavement, the night was right for celebrity sightings.

The biggest party of the night in the Meatpacking District could have easily been Diane von Furstenberg’s collaborative event with Hewlett-Packard. Celebrities such as Olivia Palermo joined in to share the excitement of HP’s debut with the Experience Lounge.

Partiers in both the Meatpacking District and Soho danced on buses decked out for the Spring/Summer 2011 season.

“While we were walking home, the police came because partiers stormed onto Broadway and started dancing on the cars,” said Stewart. “The police had to breakup the crowds and nobody could get through the street. It was wild.”

While Fashion’s Night Out was definitely a financial success for the fashion industry, Stewart questions the superficiality the industry conveys to the public.

“You could tell people are buying things purely because of Fashion’s Night Out,” said Stewart. “Fashion is so fickle. People caught up in the hype had spending inhibitions and didn’t care what they spent.” 

However, there is no doubt that this event brings people from around the world to New York City for one purpose: to shop. 

“A lot of people traveled to New York,” said Hertfelder. “My friend was talking to some people from Europe who came to New York just to shop because it’s cheaper. Everyone out there was shopping.”