Seldom does the Devil do interviews. When she does, you better bet that she’s got a damned good reason — and that she’ll be dripping in designer. Earlier this month, Vogue magazine’s editor Anna Wintour was seen in a rare interview on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” For September is when she thrives. This month’s famed September issue of Vogue is bound with 532 astounding pages of fashion. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week kicks off today. Yet Wintour was seated on Fallon’s scarlet couch cushions to, instead, promote the largest fashion party in history — and everyone is invited.
Friday marks the second annual Fashion’s Night Out, an event that stores across the world — including our very own Gainesville — will be participating in by keeping their doors open until 11 p.m.
“We started it about 18 months ago when everybody was really in retail doldrums,” Wintour told Fallon. “The idea was just to, really, have the world inspired by fashion again and understand how much fun it was and get them back into the stores.”
The spirit of Fashion’s Night Out is sweeping stores across the world, from the hangers of the United States to the shelves of the United Kingdom to the dressing rooms of Greece. Not surprisingly, Alachua County is not an official participant for this year’s Fashion’s Night Out — it’s holding one of its own.
The second annual Gainesville’s Fashion’s Night Out: A Local Celebration of Fashion, will take place Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Yet, while the global Fashion’s Night Out includes specialty stores, department stores and boutiques alike, Gainesville’s take is more focused to give attention to locally owned businesses — a realm that has taken a huge blow in respect to the recession.
“Fashion is disposable,” said Matthew Turner, organizer of Gainesville’s Fashion’s Night Out and Wolfgang owner. “It’s not necessary the way that eating is or maintaining your car is. Fashion is lower on the totem pole. The fashion industry has definitely suffered.”
Shoppers instead have been opting to strap their cash for inexpensive duds at specialty stores in malls, where clothing is cheap, plentiful and there’s no guarantee that you won’t see your outfit on 30 others around campus.
“There’s definitely a difference in shopping in a [local] boutique than there is shopping in [a specialty store],” Turner said. “There’s something a little more unique about shopping at a [boutique].
“Customers get more special attention and unique items. We remember your name and hook you up with deals whenever we can. It’s about shopping locally and keeping your money in the city.”
And while Gainesville’s Fashion’s Night Out isn’t necessarily the real deal, Turner is making sure the event stays true to its roots.
The original event was birthed in New York City last year, with a slew of celebrities making appearances in stores throughout the Big Apple to celebrate the fashion industry in the midst of an economic downturn. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen tended bar at Bergdorf Goodman, Gwen Stefani appeared at Bloomingdales and Justin Timberlake appeared at Saks Fifth Avenue — and that’s just skimming the surface.
But don’t be mistaken. This is an event of sophistication and need not be confused for something like Black Friday.
Mothers will not be trampling over one another in efforts of snagging a Tickle Me Elmo.
Wintour makes it very clear that this is not a humongous “sale” event. Rather, Fashion’s Night Out is a celebration of fashion with featured specialties at each store, such as cocktails, live music or store raffles for designer goodies.
On this side of town, each location will have offers similar to the global event, with cocktails, freebies, raffles and — shh…don’t tell Wintour — sales and discounts.
Keeping it focal on the local, Gainesville’s Fashion’s Night Out will be held not only amongst boutiques, but locally owned salons, clubs and bars as well.
“It’s a good opportunity to stimulate businesses across the board,” Turner said. “Salons you’ve never been to, clubs you’ve never been to. It’s a way to give cool businesses around the area a boost.”
Gainesville’s Fashion’s Night Out also makes a game out of the event.
Participants will purchase a “FNO” card for $5, which will serve as a pass to exclusive deals and goodies to be punched at all participating businesses.
The first shopper to return to Wolfgang — the home base for the evening — with their card fully punched will receive a grand prize of gifts from all participating Fashion’s Night Out boutiques (last year’s included T-shirts, purses, gift cards and salon products).
The next 10 shoppers to finish their card will also receive goodie bags filled with treats from the boutiques as well.
It’s a race to the fashion finish, so you better be able to run in your heels.