The Fashion's Night Out fashion show, held this evening in Lincoln Center, certainly didn't feel like New York City's largest public fashion show. This was a wonderful thing: The event had all the efficiency, energy, and punctuality of a show put on by a group of people — those who work at Vogue — who probably feel like they've wasted way too much of their lives sitting at these things, waiting for them to start, waiting for them to finish, waiting for them to be interesting. Tonight's show, which was meant to get the public excited for Fashion's Night Out on Friday, September 10, started at the millisecond the clock turned 7:30 p.m., in accordance with Anna Wintour's preachings and contrary to her fears. And contrary to the fears of many reporters who cover Fashion Week regularly and the crowds, cramped environs, and stressiness associated with them, FNO: The Show did not become FML: The Show.
The runway formed concentric circles around the fountain in the Lincoln Center Plaza, and, lined by rows of chairs only two rows deep, guaranteed everyone — who paid to be there, mind you — a pretty good look at almost everything. The only problem with the runway choreography was that, of the nine segments in the show, the opening and closing ones were the only groups that didn't pass by any chairs except the ones lining the fountain. This left The Cut, sadly, with a poor view of opening model Gisele's waist, and an even poorer view of closing model Naomi Campbell's biceps. Some of the most famous models working today, like Karolina Kurkova and Adriana Lima, rounded out those sections, so this was a real shame, but maybe this was why some seats were more expensive than others.
The show began with some fancy spotlight action and a neat little water show courtesy of the plaza fountain, as Alicia Keys's romantic rendition of "Empire State of Mind" played over the speakers. But if this show — all 171 looks of it — was going to be over quickly, the music would have to pick up. And it did after a few bars, when a red double-decker bus pulled up to the plaza on Broadway, a thumping version of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" came on, and the time to dilly-dally was clearly up. The models descended from the bus and vamped their way up the Lincoln Center stairs and onto the plaza, each wearing a Fashion's Night Out T-shirt paired with a designer skirt and shoes. They whizzed by the fountain and into Lincoln Center, and before anyone could even process that "Holy shit, Gisele just modeled right in front of my face!" moment, the models from the next section showcasing fall 2010's "Fifties Flair" trend were zooming by. Out came themed-model clump after themed-model clump, just a few paces separating each girl. They sped through Vogue-styled "Tartan Twist," "Rock Chic," and "Jazz-Age Cool" looks, each one designer, flawless, and gorgeous in person. It was like watching a live montage of John Galliano, Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, and Carolina Herrera, among many other designers' fall 2010 shows. Seeing those runway looks in person, for any fashion lover, is a real treat.
Even though Wintour recently complained about Gaga's silly backstage antics and Vogue renounced the style of Ke$ha and Katy Perry, fist-pump-worthy remixes of all three divas' music were included in the show's soundtrack. Pharrell Williams closed with a live performance, standing around the fountain with his crew and fly girls wearing decidedly less fashionable looks than those who walked the show. When he finished, he followed the finale clump of models onto the FNO bus, and rode off with them into the night (or probably, more realistically, just around the corner). The whole thing lasted maybe twenty minutes.
But the entire point of the whole production, which couldn’t have been cheap, was to get people excited to not only go to stores on Fashion's Night Out but to buy things in them. Fashion's Night Out was conceived during the worst of the recession, when it felt like stores couldn't move inventory out the door to save their lives — and so many of them didn't. Will this show, for those who were able to buy tickets and attend, and for those who didn't but will soak up its media coverage in the coming days, inspire people to go out and spend their hard-earned dough on clothes? We won't know for sure until the event is over, but not many people can afford most of what was shown on the runway, the Fashion's Night Out T-shirt aside. Despite the organizers' promises, the show did not present high-end designer looks alongside their more affordable down-market versions. Nearly everything, save maybe an Aldo bracelet, American Apparel turtleneck, or Theory shirt here and there, was an exorbitantly priced designer creation. The show may have been for the general public, but the clothes, for the most part, certainly were not.
See more from the Fashion's Night Out preview:
• The Ultimate Guide to Fashion’s Night Out
• Slideshow: 40 Things to Buy on Fashion's Night Out
• Exclusive Slideshow: Cindy Sherman for Balenciaga at Fashion's Night Out
• Fashion's Night Out Ping-Pong Face-off
• André Leon Talley's FNO To-Do List