New York City and I celebrated Fashion's Night Out yesterday. It's the one evening of the year when fancy stores not only throw open their doors to all manner of NYC riffraff—they actually reward you for coming in and putting your grubby little mitts all over their high-end merchandise. Now, Fashion's Night Out—or FNO—is a catchy little title, but the night could also be called the following:
FSFS: Fancy Stores—Free Snacks!
S&C: Shop & Chug!
PPDMOFS: Poor People's Delight—Miles of Free Stuff!
SIFBDIF: Shopping is Fun, But Drinking is Funner!
Clad in $20 Tahari flats from TJ Maxx and a dress from the little girls' section of Target, I caught up with my cousin and her friend after work and we ventured into the throng of shoppers on Fifth Avenue. We knew we were in for a special night when we reached Lacoste and encountered a red carpet and a polo shirt that would have fit the Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. We asked a couple of people behind the velvet rope what they were waiting for, and they said, "Foster the People is playing here tonight." Now I will completely admit that I can name more Gershwin tunes than current chart-toppers, but it just so happens that I love Foster the People and their jaunty little tune about shooting kids on a playground to steal their sneakers, so I was thrilled.
We didn't end up waiting for the concert because they were scheduled to appear "sometime between 6pm and 11pm," but we did hit a slew of other stores. Check out the list below and take copious notes for your mandatory trip to FNO next year.
Michael Kors—This was our first stop...and our most disappointing. We were lured in by the promise of free denim Michael Kors bags, but there were none to be found. We saw the bags later, and since they looked like my acid-washed jeans from eighth grade, I didn't think we missed much.
Banana Republic—We got carded and had white wine in sticky glasses. I chose to ignore the stickiness in light of the freeness. They also had bruschetta and prosciutto-wrapped melon. The bruschetta was average. Since I'm a strict pepperoni/bacon/hot dog eater, I didn't try the prosciutto, but I hear it wasn't that great.
Cole Haan—Snoozefest. Nothing was going on other than a contest to win a pair of free shoes for every month of the year. But since the snooty door person gave us—and our shoes—the once-over when we walked in, we left immediately after filling out our entry forms and taking one of their chocolate brown felt-tip pens. We deserved it. We felt judged.
Fendi—We totally hit the jackpot here! They were pouring Veuve Cliquot like it was going out of style, which their handbags certainly are not. To pass the time while getting as many refills as possible, we played The Price is Right with their overpriced merchandise. Then we took a picture in front of a fancy green screen that made it look like we were in a golden tunnel with "Fendi" written all over the walls. They gave us each a copy, which we plan to destroy immediately because the picture was not flattering. At all.
Tommy Hilfiger—Probably my favorite of the night. Why? A choice of regular champagne or rosé, plus grilled pineapple with herbs on it AND bruschetta with ricotta, honey, and citrus. I would have stayed there forever, but there are only so many places you can move to in the store while pretending to look at clothes. It gets embarrassing after a while.
Elizabeth Arden—We should have gone in here because they were giving away cute Red Door purse mirrors, but there were four creepy models dressed in white chiffon ghost costumes in front of the door. I couldn’t deal with that nonsense.
Diesel—Hated it. We left two seconds after we walked in. Didn't see any freebies, and the salespeople up front were totally banging their gavels. (That means they were judging us. Get it?)
Swarovski on Fifth—Two delicious Lindt chocolates made stopping in totally worth it. I'm pretty sure you were only supposed to have one.
Zara—I don't get this store. It's like H&M but waaaaay more expensive. Though based on their wine and delicious buttery breadsticks (which they made funky by standing them straight up in a square vase filled with decorative beads), I might give the store another go in the future.
Henri Bendel—A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad crowd. People were pushy and annoying and they were only giving away flavored water. But since we were only using the store for its bathroom, we got our money’s worth.
Tiffany's—Nothing was going on in the store, but someone was giving away what looked like ice cream sandwich pops on the corner outside. Disappointingly, they had an Oreo cream center instead of an ice cream center, but I can't quibble with free food. I'm not sure who was sponsoring the cart because the pops only said, "Love" on them and not the name of a store. Someone must have been asleep at the marketing desk.
Coach—In one of the high points of the evening, Seth Meyers was behind the makeshift bar at Coach. The bar was backed up because he was a very lazy bartender. Too much chatting and picture taking. More booze, less schmooze, Seth! Plus, they had the nerve to run out of glasses. But some very wet (Ewwww!) glasses became available, and Seth asked, "Who wants a glass of white wine?" I actually shouted, "Me!" and raised my hand like a third grader. That was after taking several stalker-like photos of him, of course. (See below.) I'm not sure what came over me. I mean, I do love Seth Meyers because he's a comedy-writing genius, but it's not like he's Justin Timberlake. I guess the tipsier I get, the creepier I get. Anyway, Seth graciously handed me my glass with a brilliant smile. I'm pretty sure I giggled.
Chanel—They were giving free manicures with their two new barf-inducing shades of blue but were just closing up shop. Sigh.
Swarovski on Madison—Yes, we did indeed hit up not one, but two, locations of this store full of animal-shaped glass knick-knacks. Why did we go to the second location? Champagne and red velvet cupcakes, obvi!
Ann Taylor—This store was an odd one to end with, but it was on the way to the subway, so we stopped in for more free champagne. Which we didn't need, seeing as we were grinding with the suit jackets at that point. Actually, I was the one who was grinding. My cousin was ballroom dancing with her suit jacket. Though I don't think it's our fault. The DJ was really good. We were practically forced to dance. By ourselves. In a store full of appropriate work attire.
In the end, I see the beauty of the event—it gets poor folk like me into fancy stores to drool over the merch. But the downfall is that poor folk like me can't afford the merch so instead we greedily grab free booze, destroying the merch with our drool and our bruschetta-coated little fingers.
When I woke up with a champagne headache this morning, I asked my cousin, “Why on earth didn’t we just say no to our 65th glass of champagne last night?” Her response: “Because we live in Manhattan. Draft beer is $8 a pint in this town.”