Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — While some might argue that group shopping is pretty much a female-centric activity already, the SoHo boutique Kirna Zabete decided to make it real. Owners Sarah Hailes and Beth Shepherd sent out invitations to friends, editors and faithful shoppers, inviting them to gather for a late night at the shop on April 6.
While waiters — the only men allowed, aside from a surprise appearance by designer Andrew Gn — passed splits of champagne, trays of tiny macaroni, cheese squares and pastries, women circulated the split-level shop trying on T-shirts from Antoni and Allison, bags from Lambertson Truex and apparel from Olivier Theyskens and Hussein Chalayan.
“This isn’t really a personal appearance,” said Gn, who is based in Paris. “I was in town and Beth and Sarah said, ‘Stop by! We’re having a party.”‘
Whatever the reason, it worked; Gn’s embroidered skirts and thin cashmere tops were the bestsellers for the evening, according to Hailes.
“He was in the fitting rooms all night, styling our girls,” said Hailes.
While some of Kirna Zabete’s clients have closets full of the edgy, fashion-forward looks that are the retailer’s specialty, others find the styles a welcome escape from their usual corporate dress.
“I never get to wear these kinds of clothes to the office,” said Mary Hamilton, a human resources executive at an insurance firm in Stamford, Conn. She was trying on an Antoni & Allison dress with the words “Elvis Lives” printed down the front.
“I try to push the envelope at work every day,” she added. “My big coup was getting casual Friday pushed through. My co-workers love to laugh at me.”
In the next dressing room, Amy Raiter, special events manager at Christian Dior, was picking out Rubin Chapelle corduroy jeans with a slashed white cotton shirt from Lovella. She stepped out and modeled the look for about five or six other customers. After getting unanimous approval, she handed the outfit to Hailes and said, “Let’s go work the credit card.”
Bestsellers were Theyskens’ full, rustling “party” skirts in black silk; Jazmin Chebar’s bright-colored leather pants, skirts and zip jackets, and Matthew Williamson’s linen separates in purple and white.
Hailes noted a few demographic differences. The uptown crowd went for “sweet, ladylike blouses and full pants,” as well as a slim-cut dark jeans from Wink called the ‘Brooke’ style.
Overall, she said, the evening was a success.
“Everyone seemed to have a good time,” Hailes said. “And all our dressing rooms are full.”