Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashion Night Out - 2009

Or as I like to think of it, trick-or-treating for KO!

DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) and others put together an event to kickoff Fashion Week and to get people out and shopping. (The retailers really need people to open their wallets again).

There were over 700 stores offering an array of events. Everything was free and I think everything was open to the public. Every store had a drawing, many had free food and cocktails and there were plenty of djs spinning - in fact if you needed a dj for a party that night you were probably outta luck, they were all working in Soho.

I had to do some research to try and map out the best route. I wanted to hit Soho, the Meatpacking District (MPD), Saks, Bloomies, and Pure Yoga located in the Upper East Side.

Luckily I called Pure Yoga before I headed out for the night. While most stores were hosting events from 6 - 11pm, they were going to close after the last class of the day, about 9pm. I knew I didn't want to head all the way up to the UES by 9 so I waited until 6 and stopped there first (it's pretty much on the way to the subway station - so an easy way to start the night).
Pure Yoga was offering a free week of yoga classes (retail value $170) and as it turns out a box of coconut water (love the stuff, it's oddly refreshing - but definitely not an expected taste - retail value $1.99).
15 minutes in to the night I was already ahead $172! Yay for me.
I hopped on the train and headed straight to Soho. First stop - the Anna Sui for Target pop-up store.

Oh no - a line, do I wait or do I move on and try to come back later? I quickly determine the line is moving quickly and the girls behind me were gossiping about some party where Tom Colicchio cooked a vegan meal - good eavesdropping material - I can wait. The store was so cute. It was covered in purple and black fabric and had a romantic/goth kind of vibe. They had actors (at least I assumed they were paid human props) placed in various locations throughout the store portraying the idea of various Gossip Girl characters (the Anna Sui line was inspired by the Gossip Girl characters). The store was staged in an empty store with multiple levels. The lighting was dim and the clothes were tucked in to corners. You started out going downstairs and then walked up two levels - when you were ready to check out you walked down a level and ended up at the registers which were street level. They did a good job and the collection was really fun. Most of the items were waaaaayyyy to young for me (most of the dressers were in junior sizing - yikes), but I nabbed a few fab pieces and headed on my way. After departing the store I was stopped twice by other shoppers wanting to know where the store was and what the clothes were like.
I had a store in mind for my next stop but didn't get there. I made a quick stop at Via Spiga to sign up to win a $2,500 shoe collection and enjoy a chocolate dipped strawberry. (retail value: $4.00 - total for the night $176).
I wandered in to a store that was featuring a musician. There were free drinks, but I was not dressed for the vibe and moved along quickly. Right next door there was a new Swarovski concept store (I was so dazzled by all of the sparkly things I didn't exactly get the concept - I think they have lots of individual gems and you basically create custom jewelry). They were pouring free champagne and had a bar with nuts, cheese, and crackers. (retail value: glass of champagne $12.00, cheese plate $8.00 - total for the night $196). The store was gorgeous and had tons of stuff to look at as you were eating. Next to the bar was a display of designer shoes - various shoe designer reinterpreted the iconic 'ruby slipper' from the Wizard of Oz. I am in love the the Manolos!

They had costumes on display and of course a dj spinning downstairs. The best part about the downstairs was a nice clean restroom with no line.
My goal was to make it to Sephora in Soho and win the makeover with Oscar Blandi. On my way I took a slight detour to the Burberry store. They had a drawing for a classic Burberry trench - how could I pass up that opportunity? As I wandered through the store in search of the form to fill out for the drawing I picked up another free glass of champagne (retail value $12.00 - total for the night $208). The store was packed and of course had a super trendy young crowd with a dj spinning. I stayed just long enough to fill out my entry form and drink my champagne - no time to waste, I had better places to visit! Before I made it to Sephora I had to stop in one of my favorite stores in Soho, Uniqlo. It is a Japanese store that sells great pieces for great prices. The siren song of the velvet blazer (which has been banned from my wardrobe due to it's unflattering fit) called out to me -but I resisted.

This same velvet blazer was available in an array of colors including the most wonderful soft gray...sigh.
On the way out I did score a bottle of Japanese ice tea - check out the fancy pants label (it is probably the equivalent of generic blue label in Japan but my Western brain was impressed).
(estimated retail value: $3 - total for the night $211)

Finally Sephora. Well I missed the hair cut, but I did get to see Oscar Blandi (stylist to the stars). In a way I think I'm OK with not getting the makeover. Apparently it wasn't in his salon at a later date - it was live in the front of the store. Oscar was over by his makeshift station and there was hair all over the floor. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed a makeover in front of a big crowd. I met with one of the people in charge of product development and she talked up the shampoo. I was in need of new shampoo and it smelled absolutely fabulous (lemon verbena - similar to the Bliss lemon - sage body butter). His hair care line also offers a dry shampoo that has the same lovely scent. I have been using the products for about 2 weeks now and I'm really happy with my purchase (aside from it being a little heavy to carry that night).

The Oscar Blandi rep tossed in a bunch of free samples and Sephora had their own sample pack - I left with all kinds of fun stuff. To me there are few things as much fun as a bag full of makeup/beauty product samples - you get to test a product out without any potential buyer's remorse.

Not sure if samples have any retail value, I'm not adding them to my total....

On my way to the subway, I stopped in the Lucky Brand jeans store - the lured me in with talk of free cupcakes and free t-shirts. The t-shirts were pretty cool but there was a huge line. They were individually silk screening each shirt as you waited. Great concept, but poor execution - the line was all over the place and clearly it was a huge time commitment. I passed on both the t-shirt and the cupcake.

At this point it was about 9:30 and I was ready to head north. I was either going to Bloomies, Saks, or DSW. DSW was giving away a pair of shoes every 30 minutes and the big prize was a year of free shoes (one pair a month for 12 months). Yay for shoes. I caught an express train and decided I would sign up for the year of shoes. Stylist Bobbi Thomas was on-hand to provide fashion advice and give away shoes. I was just in time for the 9:30 drawing but they didn't call my name. The grand prize drawing was at 10pm and the winner had to be present to win. I decided to stay and really, how fast does 30 minutes go by when you are trying on shoes. The store had quite a different crowd than Soho - definitely not as young, beautiful, or trendy. There was no free champagne or dj spinning. Unfortunately 10pm came and went and I left not winning any shoes. Bummer!

I really wanted to end my night at Bloomies but I was getting tired and I wanted to look for flats at the Steve Madden store in our neighborhood. I am in desperate need of some good flat shoes for fall and they had everything in the store on sale.

Back on the train headed for the UES. I stopped in Steve Madden (very loud dj spinning - it's a small space, when the shoes are vibrating on the shelves it's time to turn the volume down). I tried on a few pairs but no luck.

I had a coupon for 25% off of everything at Banana Republic - the last stop of the night. They were serving sparking water and had a cute spread with nuts, cheese, and crackers. I refueled with some sparkling water and some cheese and crackers. I found a cute sweater and lilac colored top, grabbed a bottle of water and checked out just at 11pm. (retail value: glass of sparkling water: $3, bottled water: $2, cheese plate: $8 - total for the evening: $224 in free merchandise!).

I'm not sure how successful the event was for a retailer. Lots of people were in the stores but the only place I really saw merchandise flying off of the racks was in the Anna Sui for Target pop-up store. I think many people were like me, in for the party, the drawings, and the freebies!

I need to sign up for my free week of yoga - it's on my list for tomorrow. I can't wait as the coupon has to be used by October 9th, I don't want to miss out on my best deal of the night.