“It’s Fashion Gay Parade,” DSquared2 designer Dean Caten joked, referring to the crowds strolling Milan’s shopping area near Via Montenapoleone this year for Fashion Night Out. Caten and his twin brother Dan were back from a whirlwind vacation this summer, touching Canada, Ibiza, Barcelona, Mykonos and Capri. “It’s the only free month we have in our life,” shrugged Caten. The siblings were adding more frequent flyer mileage the following day with a trip to Paris to gear up for the opening of a new store there on Oct 2.
A new boutique was top of mind for Veronica Etro, too. The designer will head to China in mid-November to open a door in Beijing. But family comes first and life doesn’t stop for FNO. “I have to rush to a parents’ school meeting,” she said, running to fetch her scooter. At his boutique in Via Spiga, Roberto Cavalli introduced a new member of his family — his new German shepherd puppy. “I should call him Lupo 10,” said the designer, referring to the Italian name of this breed. “I’ve had at least nine of them since 1973,” explained Cavalli.
“We’ve worked so hard on the Olivia Spectator bag,” said Moschino creative director Rosella Jardini, of the brand’s new luxury accessory. So much so, that Jardini decided to design for the event a canvas shopping bag with a trompe l’oeil replica of that tote. And Jardini is not one to take her duties lightly, as she admitted she’s already working on the fall 2012 collection.
Brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle were also keeping an eye on the shopping element of the affair and were upbeat about customers being willing to open their wallets. “We always register great sales during FNO, which now traditionally marks the beginning of the shopping season,” said Andrea Della Valle.
Conversely, Vittorio Missoni was more skeptical. “I think we mainly sell our gadgets during FNO, the ones that are designed for the event are always a big hit,” he said. This year, this would be hair bands retailing at 60 euros, or $84 at current exchange. “The contact with customers is very important to me, designers shouldn’t stay closed up in their studios,” said Alberta Ferretti, posing gamely with a young boy for photos in her store. “I started in this business with a small boutique, and my customers were my teachers,” she said.
Likewise, Antonio Marras enjoyed showing his artistic side in his boutique, putting his finishing touches to a series of Ts designed for the event by painting details on the spot. Diesel chief Renzo Rosso praised the buzz and activity in town. “It’s like a party,” he said, comparing the mood to Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the international furniture and design show held in April. Model Ashley Smith, who appears in Diesel’s ads for its new fragrance Loverdose, was in the store for the event.
Kiera Chaplin, who was photographed earlier this year by Karl Lagerfeld for his collection for Hogan, was spotted at the Via Montenapoleone store.
Meanwhile, queues snaked throughout the Golden Triangle shopping district in Paris, with a gridlock forming at the crossroads of Avenue Montaigne and Rue François 1er. At Dior, Leigh Lezark manned the decks as guests including actress Valerie Donzelli checked out the goods or queued to get their makeup done. “I’m a terrible shopper — I’m a man,” laughed Antoine Arnault, pushing through the crowd at Louis Vuitton, a few doors down. “I tend to only go shopping when I’m about to pack my suitcases for vacation and realize that I have nothing to wear.”
A few doors down, a bronzed Peter Dundas, clad in an eye-popping leopard jacket, cruised into the Pucci store with Ines Sastre on his arm. The designer said he’d been vacationing in Greece and Capri. Doing the rounds with presenter Mademoiselle Agnes and a TV crew, French Vogue editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt caused a commotion on Avenue Montaigne, where fans jostled to catch a glimpse at the posse of models trailing in her wake: Anja Rubik, Isabeli Fontana and Natasha Poly. Meanwhile, Courreges had parked a fleet of its Space Age electric cars outside its store, with go-go booted hostesses serving Champagne to guests. Hanging out by a rack of fluo vinyl jackets, actor Vincent Perez revealed that an exhibition of his photographs, currently on show in Vladivostock, will head to Moscow and Paris next. “The theme is key players of our time,” he said, reeling off a list that included Carla Bruni, Bono, Kenzo Takada.
Ungaro in its flagship presented a selection of groovy vintage jewelry from its archives, designed by the late artist Oskar Gustin for the house in the Sixties and Seventies, while Giuseppe Zanotti had set up an ice cream parlor outside its boutique — shame about the rain. Jean Paul Gaultier arrived fashionably late for his own party, where he was greeted by his new boss, Manuel Puig. “I was stuck in fittings,” he explained. “It’s taking longer than expected.”
In London, Henry Holland proclaimed FNO was “like late night shopping with extra Champagne.” The designer was playing host at Asprey on New Bond Street, where he was gifting the jewelry house’s Life rings to select pals, including Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof. And with a spring 2012 show looming next week, Holland said he appreciated the respite. “You don’t get the chance to nip out of the office as we’re working so hard, so this is great,” he said. Outside the Bond Street store, the road had been shut to traffic and hundreds of shoppers wended in and out of the luxury retailers on the street.
Nearby at Stella McCartney’s Bruton Street store, the designer had set up a kitsch disco with popcorn stands, lollipops and live dancers. McCartney co-hosted the event with her pals Livia Firth and Laura Bailey. “Stella throws the best parties,” marveled Firth, as she snapped pictures of a troupe of dancers clad in black and gold lame.
Meanwhile, Roland Mouret had thrown open his shop on Mayfair’s Carlos Place to celebrate both FNO and his 50th birthday, which took place on Saturday. “I thought at 50 you do things that count and my customers count so I am here,” said Mouret. “Plus, I have already had four parties.” The designer served Champagne and cupcakes with sparkling icing, and treated his customers to a live display of his draping skills. The designer had also created three paper patterns for customers to replicate themselves, named after his mother and sisters, which are available as a limited edition and priced at about $30. “It’s a project anyone can do at home with some jersey and some ribbon,” assured Mouret.
And Coach brought a New York moment to its new London home on New Bond Street, as the company invited shoppers to pose against a backdrop of a New York skyline. Meanwhile, celeb guests including Gwyneth Paltrow, David Gandy and Jemma Kidd turned out at the store. Over at Liberty on Regent Street, the night took on a tropical mood. Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy, who’s known for spotting young fashion talent, was hosting a Hawaiian themed event called HonoLULU at the store, to celebrate the launch of her Lulu & Co collection with past Fashion East designers. There, guests including Jasmine Guinness and Simone Rocha — who has designed pieces for the line – browsed the collection and sipped rum and coconut cocktails. Rocha had even put a few tropical blooms in her hair to complement the decor. “Lulu said it was a Hawaiian theme, so I thought I’d make the effort,” she said with a smile.
Berlin’s formerly divided status now means twice the events for Fashion’s Night Out.
In the East, despite the rainy evening, the crowd hit The Corner for a fashion cocktail for Berlin designer Michael Sontag, whose fall collection is now stocked there. “We started selling his dresses from day one,” explained co-owner Josef Voelk. Models Katrin Thormann and Iris Strubegger were eyeing a gray Rick Owens leather jacket at the store. “But I can’t buy anything straight away. I need to go home and sleep over it,” Thormann confided.
Galeries Lafayette hosted Burberry beauty consultant Wendy Rowe, and set up a mini Cowshed spa for quick massages and manicures. An artist from Princesse Tam Tam lingerie drew quirky designs on ladies’ silky scanties, while a seamstress created custom Edsor Kronen ties for the gents.
At nearby Departmentstore Quartier 206, the second floor turned into a silk road — London label Clare Tough and Berlin’s Odeeh both created limited-edition silk items for the night. Odeeh designers Jörg Ehrlich and Otto Drögsler were happy to be on hand and hands-on, assisting shoppers with fall purchases.
Across town in the West at the Hotel Concorde, local talents Mongrels in Common held a cocktail and sale in the bar area, hijacking a nearby elevator for their changing room — taking off instead of going up. Munich-based Selve, a custom footwear company, held a shoe-it-your-self salon upstairs on the hotel’s 11th floor.
Schumacher, which now has stores in both sides of the city, kicked things off in its Schlüterstrasse shop with a surprise concert from violin virtuoso Arabella Steinbacher. The theme of the night was Lucky Numbers, with visitors receiving hand-painted tops featuring their digits of destiny. “I think I’d pick number eight,” said designer Dorothee Schumacher, who was also offering guests a chance to win an exclusive leather jacket straight off the runway in glossy green – the winning ticket was hidden in one of a batch of colorful patent clutches retailing for 99 euro ($140).
She wasn’t the only one counting — German Vogue’s editor-in-chief Christiane Arp was gambling on a growth year for the event. “The first time we had 600 guests at KaDeWe. Last year, there were over 2,000. So that’s a good outlook for tonight,” said Arp. The line to enter the department store store was rivaled by the one inside — Chanel-lovers waiting to snap up the limited-edition Les Jeans de Chanel nail polish trio, available only on Fashion’s Night Out, and only for four hours. On Friday, Vogue Fashion’s Night Out moves to Dusseldorf, where it debuts this year.