7:32 a.m.: Still 28 long and excruciating minutes until they throw open those doors and the shopping hyenas go wild. But we've got Cut operatives staked out on the premises, reporting from the madness as it happens. Early intel: "I got here just after 7 a.m., and there were around 35 people; in the past twenty minutes, maybe another twenty have shown up. Everyone's bitching about how cold it is; lots of people are wearing Uggs." Uggs? Uggs? Today is not for the faint of heart.
More from the line: "A young woman named Nina, in her early to mid twenties, is at the front of the line. She's wearing a big furry hood and has been there since SIX IN THE MORNING. She loves labels, has been coming to the sale for years. Favorite past buy: $170 pair of strappy Manolos. Nina's tip for other shoppers: Come earlier." Like 5 a.m.? Hard-core, people.
7:48 a.m.: Now there are well over 100 people in line — the hungry masses are multiplying at a rapid rate. You can hear a constant, excited murmur about shoes. One pair of girls came from Long Island on a 5:30 a.m. train. Day one is for browsing, they say, and then they'll come back to make purchases from whatever's left on the last day. A fairy tale of a plan, perhaps, but who are we to dismiss another shopper's dream?
7:55 a.m.: Security is getting skittish. They've no idea if people are rushing in all at once, Braveheart style. Maybe it's the chill, but the crowd is increasingly antsy. We sense disorganization. Chaos looms.
7:59 a.m.: The sale has not yet started, but WE ARE INSIDE. We can see some fur-trimmed coats. They will no doubt be gone in mere moments, but we will remember them forever. Employees are bustling around, ready to go. T-minus two minutes until mass carnage.
8:05 a.m.: And Jesus wept! Shoppers are being let in; the women's entrance is already a bit slow-going, but sympathetic PR folk are offering kind eyes to frozen souls who finally make it in. High-fives are being exchanged (it's an emotional time). The second woman through the door conspiratorially asked a greeter where the handbags were. Meanwhile, the men's entrance is less clogged (female-to-male ratio is about 3:1). Natty gays might want to get over here sooner rather than later.
8:16 a.m.: Mandatory bag check is causing serious trauma! Lots of shoving and jostling to quickly check bags among women carrying massive Marc and Chanel totes, who can't get into the sale as quickly as the five or six women on earth who happen to carry wee clutches (and can glide on in without hassle). Lots of exasperated, "I can't BELIEVE this" sort of commentary, mass huffiness, etc.
8:27 a.m.: There's a big sign advertising an additional 25 percent off Kate Moss for Topshop togs: cropped leather bomber jackets, black cotton sailor pants ("that feel like polyester"), asymmetrical ruffled dresses … but even then, nobody's interested. "It's a ghost town over there," reports our operative.
8:42 a.m. News you can use: Metallic Jil Sander dresses are marked down from $2,400 to $600; McQueen tees are $100; Miu Miu tops abound as well. There's a lot of marked-down Lanvin merchandise, dresses and coats — it's still going to cost you around $800 to a cool grand, but if you want a genuine deal, it's there. Designer bags: just a lot of Barneys label stuff. Real deals are in the shoes, where you can get Louboutins for $200 (our spy saw some espadrilles that caught her eye that were a mere $150). Other standouts include Miu Miu studded flats, Pierre Hardy wedges, a lot of boots, and your beloved Manolos. Steer clear, however, of the Marc by Marc shoes: They're selling a lot of 'em, sometimes for as much as $250 a pop, which strikes us as a bit ridiculous. Beware!
9:12 a.m. The inevitable has happened: Irritation and annoyance have overridden the allure of sweet, sweet footwear. "It's taking so long to retrieve full pairs of shoes that a lot of women are giving up." Tragic.
—With reporting by Kendall Herbst
For pictures from inside the sale, click here.