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NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, Vera Wang and Anna Wintour at a VIP preview and cocktail party for the Fashion for Sandy Relief designer sale Thursday evening. The event, staged at Metropolitan Pavilion and featuring donated items from a platoon of luxury labels, was part of a multifaceted effort spearheaded by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue to raise funds for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
“The fashion industry understands that its future is here and that we have to have a big vibrant city in order for the fashion industry to succeed,” said Bloomberg, who left the sale empty-handed. “The kind of people who are in fashion typically have a sense of responsibility and style and participation….So when people need help, it’s natural that people in the fashion industry would instinctively want to go and participate and you see that coming out. And this is not the first time they’ve come out. Every time we’ve had a problem in this city [they’ve responded]. You see Tory Burch and Anna Wintour and particularly DVF — these are the kind of people who make this city what it is.”
The jumble sale, as Wintour dubbed it, opened to the public on Friday for one day only, offering merchandise from Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, Valentino, Missoni, Diane von Furstenberg, Theory and J. Crew, among others, at 50 percent off retail. All the proceeds will be donated to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and other relief organizations in the Tristate area.
“Hurricane Sandy has been devastating to everyone and it’s something that none of us expected to have such a huge impact,” said Burch, who sparked the idea for the sale by offering to transform her own previously planned sample sale into the multibrand fund-raising one. “We wanted to be able to come together and do our own small thing and I feel like it’s going to be a long road ahead of us.”
Burch said all three Tory Burch offices in the Tristate area were impacted by Sandy. Burch family members who lived in downtown Manhattan and lost power during the blackout moved into the designer’s uptown apartment for a week. “We had every couch covered,” related Burch. “But I can’t complain compared to what other people have gone through.”
On Friday with the sale open to the public, by lunchtime about 80 people were lined up outside waiting for space in the 250-person venue to free up. After paying a $40 shopping fee that also went to hurricane relief, about 1,500 people were expected to visit the sale Friday, according to a Metropolitan Pavilion security guard. Upstairs, many shoppers crowded the Tory Burch shoe area that had been cordoned off. Chanel cosmetics were the first items to sell out Friday morning. Items from 100 international and American designers were merchandised by category.
Flo Leighton made the trek from Washington Heights to buy a pair of Reva flats and a Tory Burch handbag. “I am trying to cut myself off at $500. That’s the attempt. We will see what happens,” she said. On her lunch break from a nearby advertising firm, Amanda Anayati planned to spend $250 on two pairs of Citizens of Humanity jeans, a Nicole Miller dress and Tory Burch ankle boots.
Just in from Fayetteville, N.C., Courtney Myrick and her boyfriend dashed over to the sale after checking into their hotel. Heading to the cash register with a Tory Burch wool cape, yellow Splendid silk pants and a gray Kenneth Cole sweater, she said, “It’s not hard to find discounted designer clothes in North Carolina. I didn’t come to New York to splurge shopping but I figured this is for a good cause.”
In addition to the designer sale, the CFDA and Vogue launched an auction on Charitybuzz.com on Nov. 13, featuring one-of-a-kind experiences and merchandise, such as tickets to the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards, a week-long stay at Tommy Hilfiger’s estate on Mustique, tickets to the 2013 Met Ball benefit cocktails with Wintour and dinner at the Beatrice Inn with Graydon Carter as the waiter.
Additional auction items continue to be added — and at the designer sale, Wintour and von Furstenberg buttonholed Bloomberg and persuaded him to donate a personal round of golf with him. The online auctions close on Dec. 5 and total bids had already reached about $250,000 by Thursday, said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA. “These are things you just can’t buy anywhere,” he noted. “What we have as an industry is resources and relationships and product.”
Wintour helped organize a number of auction items, such as a meet-and-greet with Roger Federer at the U.S. Open and a signed racket. “This is an industry that is based in New York City and New York City has suffered incredible damage. We all work here and we feel that we should support and give back to the city that supports all of us,” said the Vogue editor in chief, who suffered damage to her country house in Mastic Beach, Long Island, during the hurricane. “When I look at how other people have suffered, obviously I feel very grateful and think it’s so important to help.”
Von Furstenberg herself was away in Australia during Sandy and missed the entire ordeal. “I could not have been further away. I was lucky,” said the CFDA president, who mingled at the sale with guests like Angie Harmon, Jamie Tisch, Marina Rust, Prabal Gurung, Rogan Gregory, Ruffian’s Brian Wolk and Claude Morais and Suno’s Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty.
Wang housed some of her displaced employees at her uptown home during the Sandy blackout. “Even though New York is one of the most powerful cities in the world, disasters can happen here. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature,” said Wang. “I think it’s really important for people to know, a) what happened, b) what a great job the Mayor and Governor and President did and, c) that the fashion industry is so aware of all these things. We don’t just do fashion, we really do have a conscience.”