“Fashion Night Out” Begins Tonight! Will Bette Attend?

Retailers and Vogue Editors Prepare For Fashion’s Night Out
Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff

Retailers and designers around the world have been counting down the days until the third annual Fashion’s Night Out–the inspiration of Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour”“which will launch tomorrow night at 6 p.m. Wintour promises Forbes that the “best fashion party in history” will be bigger and better than ever.

The extravaganza of runway shows, celebrity sightings and champagne freebies has expanded its online presence, including city-specific sites and regular updates on Vogue.com, Facebook and Twitter, and its global foothold to 18 countries. Wintour also expects this year’s FNO to extend to more U.S. locations; last year it ballooned to over 1,000 New York stores and more than 100 U.S. cities. Offering a modest bump in retail sales and donations to several charities, several A-list fashionistas like Sarah Jessica Parker, Heidi Klum, Ivanka Trump and Kim Kardashian will be among the many celebs to show their support of the international event.

When I sat down with Wintour in her office last month, fashion’s most powerful woman explained how FNO got its start. Four years ago in Paris, she and other international Vogue editors heard again and again from department store executives that the shops were deserted. “I’d always been extremely fascinated by the French Nuit Blanche, which is a weekend they have in Paris where they keep all the museums open until dawn,” Wintour told me. “You can go and hang out in Versailles in the middle of the night and watch the sun come up.” She imagined that recreating this “extraordinary gift to the people of Paris” in the U.S. might excite shoppers and help the struggling retail sector.

Wintour says every Vogue editor got together and decided to host FNO wherever the magazine was published. In New York, she enlisted celebrity attendees like Justin Timberlake, Barbara Walters, Bette Midler and Oscar de la Renta. The “overwhelming” response surprised even her. “To be honest,” confided Wintour, “we started off thinking it would be just one night, but immediately we were asked to do it again.”

The editors soon discovered that the logistics of doing one event at the same time all over the world proved “a bit difficult.” This year the timing will be staggered. And, in light of the natural disasters suffered in Japan, FNO was moved to the first weekend in November there. Vogue editors will all show their support by meeting in Tokyo for dinner and shopping on Nov. 5.

“It’s good for the economy–and especially after the news recently, we really need to stimulate it”“it’s good for the industry, and there’s also a fantastic philanthropic part to it,” Wintour said. Because FNO in the U.S. is so near the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, many of the participating stores will donate a portion of the proceeds to NYC’s September 11th Fund.

Just a few of the goings on tomorrow include: Henna tattoos while shopping Diane Von Furstenberg at Bloomingdale’s, laptop giveaways at Saks Fifth Avenue and new designer collection debuts at Macy’s and during a QVC live broadcast.

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