Fashion industry insiders can sometimes be a touch snarky about Fashion’s Night Out (AKA FNO), and with understandable reason. The event began in 2009, as an initiative dreamed up by Anna Wintour and promoted by Vogue, to boost both fashion industry sales and the collective spirits of New York City. Fashion’s Night Out has changed the landscape of New York Fashion Week completely. It has democratized NYFW, and made the exclusive accessible to one and all. This year, over 1178 venues are participating in Fashion’s Night Out. In major cities around the world, events will be hosted by celebrities and fashionistas – and as you might imagine with that many events happening, things can get pretty crazy. Getting around the city can be a nightmare.
Fashion’s Night Out is awesome, but it can be extremely overwhelming.
Allow me to highlight some of the coolest events in New York and elsewhere, and offer you insight based on my past FNO experience! Hopefully you can enjoy the experience and avoid the headaches.
Afrobella’s FNO NYC Survival Tips
Fashion’s Night Out began in New York, and no other city embraces FNO like NYC. Especially Manhattan — the whole city is alive with action in every neighborhood you can imagine.
The smartest thing you can do to navigate, is to choose ONE neighborhood. Taxi cabs are almost impossible to find, and any cars or buses will be trapped in gridlock. Best case scenario, you get a cab and then watch as your meter skyrockets while you are basically parked in traffic. No thanks. Your best bet to get from place to place during FNO is the subway. Buy your pass and wear comfortable shoes (between venues, at least).
Use the Fashion’s Night Out website as your guide, and identify the top three events you absolutely, positively want to get into. Bear in mind that if your event features big name celebrities, everyone and their mama will want to be there too. You’re far more likely to get a photo opportunity or snag a must-have item if you choose an event that’s more low key. And if you do choose to risk the madding crowds, get there early. Often these events are advertised like everyone will get to enjoy it, and then you find out there’s limited room for the crowd (and half of the crowd will likely be friends of the celebrities/designers/PR folks/bloggers etc).
Be realistic and understand that you probably won’t make it to every event. Fifth Avenue is a great location to begin, if you’re looking for mainstream brands and big giveaways. But to be honest, the Meatpacking District is probably the best people watching you can enjoy during FNO (that’s where everyone got their Anna Wintour sightings last year). And if you’re making the Meatpacking your main hub, for the love of Pete don’t wear stilettos. Pointy high heeled shoes and cobblestoned streets don’t mix, and the last thing you want to be remembered as, is the woman who took a face first fall during Fashion’s Night Out! (I’ve seen it happen!)
What are the top Fashion’s Night Out events? Let me share a few picks, starting in the city where it all began!
Do you follow @Tracy_Reese? I’m a fan, and she sure knows how to design a frock. AND how to throw a party! This year Tracy Reese will host her 2nd annual FNO dance-a-thon at her flagship boutique in the Meatpacking District. Guests will show-off their best moves, and Tracy and DJ Tyger Lilly will judge the dance-a-thon, awarding prizes to the evening’s best dancers. Guests who spend more than $300 will automatically be entered in a raffle to win a TR FNO prize package.
I LOVE me some Ricky’s NYC! The party will be bumpin at their newest location in Manhattan (2387 Broadway, between 87th & 88th Street)! Fans can shop their eclectic, hard-to-find beauty offerings and enjoy free makeovers by Ricky’s NYC’s Elite Pro Beauty Team along with complimentary manicures from Katy Perry’s nail stylist, Patricia Yankee. The shindig will be hosted by Ricky himself, with contributions from Too Faced, Skyn Iceland, Dashing Divas, Nest Fragrances, Sally Hershberger Hair Care and much more.
Lancôme knows what the ladies love — celeb meet and greets, and freebies! They’ve got you covered at their main NYC retalers. YouTube super star and Lancôme video makeup artist Michelle Phan will be meeting and greeting fans at Sephora Times Square (1500 Broadway between 43rd & 44th Streets) from 7-9 p.m. to a backdrop of her new Hypnôse Doll Lashes video. Sephora makeup artists will also be on hand offering lash transformations using Hypnôse Doll Lashes, Lancôme’s latest mascara innovation, and new Color Design 5 Pan Palettes. Lancôme spokesmodels Arlenis Sosa and Elettra Wiedemann—two of the dolls of the Hypnôse Doll Lashes campaign—will be overseeing “doll lash” makeovers from 6–8 p.m. Arlenis will be directing at Macy’s, while Elettra will be doing the honors at Saks. All looks will be at the hands of the stores’ talented makeup artists. On Twitter you can follow @lancomeparis to get a behind the scenes look of the magic as it happens.
One of my dear fashion blogger friends — Essence.com’s Zandile Blay – will be co-hosting Coach’s FNO festivities (595 Madison Avenue at 57th Street). ZB is one of the fierce fashionistas chosen to participate in Coach’s “The Duffle Project,” which is centered around the re-launch of the labels’ iconic 1973 Duffle. If you go between 7 to 9 pm, you’ll meet Zandile, Hanneli’s Hanneli Mustaparta, Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine, The Glamourai’s Kelly Framel, Into The Gloss’s Emily Weiss, Tales of Endearment’s Natalie Joos, and The Chriselle Factor’s Chriselle Lim!
At the Kiehl’s Flagship store (109 Third Avenue at 13th Street) there;s karaoke, cocktails, and a carnival atmosphere. Singer AJ McLean will be singing karaoke at 6:30, and throughout the evening there will be raffle prizes and surprise celeb performances.
Ooh and The Makeup Show is hosting an event at the Make up For Ever stuio on East 12th Street. Check out their recommendations here. AND my homegirls Kristen of FashionStyleBeauty and Celia of Sicka than Average both wrote dope FNO guides. Check out those links for their suggested events!
I’m going to be out and about in the windy city to see how we do Fashion’s Night Out in Chicago! So far it seems that things will be MUCH tamer than they are in NYC, and Macy’s on State Street is pretty much the place to be. There are different celebs on each floor — Kelly Osbourne will be on the second floor, repping for Material Girl, natch! And I plan to hang on the 3rd floor, where Chicago designers including Gidi, Cettina, Crystal B. Designs, Eric Kipp Custom Clothiers, Modahnik and Shavonne Dorsey Apparel will be showing the world what they’re working with.
There’s an event at Banana Republic’s North Michigan store from 5pm to closing. Wine will be provided by Clos du Bois.
At the 900 North Michigan shops, Bravo TV’s fashion guru Brad Goreski will be hosting an event that will include a fashion show, foods by Chicago’s finest restaurants, and complimentary services at a beauty bar.
And the fun doesn’t stop at NYC and the Chi – like I said, there are events at major malls and in big cities ALL OVER the place. Check out the FNO website to find an event near you! Go forth, be fabulous, and enjoy Fashion’s Night Out!
Where are you headed this year? Tell me!