Published 2 years ago
On Sept. 8, designers will be at their posts, just as they were this time last year, and you can go through the madness all over again.
Left and right: Valerio Mezzanoti; right: Catwalking.com
Instead of “Groundhog Day,” the Bill Murray movie, we now have Fashion’s Night Out. It never ends.
F.N.O. was a good idea when it began, back in the depths of the recession when stores were virtually empty. But now it’s become a party, an institutionalized kickoff to Fashion Week, and though it apparently raises money for some causes, I have to believe that the costs of security, crowd control and entertainment, not to mention the traffic headaches, outweigh the actual benefits.
And it’s not as if the city’s retail industry needs a boost, as it did in 2009, when a lot of small stores closed. In fact, many retailers are having an excellent year, with Macy’s, Ralph Lauren, Kohl’s and Nordstrom announcing that they plan to raise profit outlooks. Neiman Marcus, which reports its quarterly results next month, has experienced robust sales. So have the big luxury-goods groups, LVMH and Gucci Group. The Limited’s numbers are up, too. A few New York stores — Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others — are spending money on renovations.
I suspect that some F.N.O. supporters will point to the wild stock market, the stalled economy and sinking consumer confidence, and say the timing for a street party couldn’t be better. On the other hand, it could be worse, given the concerns of ordinary people in other regions of this country and the world.
The other day I went out shopping. I hit about six stores, including Saks and Bergdorf as well as J. Crew and Ann Taylor. I generally do this in mid-August to see what merchandise has been delivered, to compare what I remember of the fall shows with what retailers ended up buying, and to see who is out shopping.
And I have to say this was no “Groundhog” moment. The stores I visited have a far better selection of styles than they did last year at this time. By better I mean smart and fashionable, not safe. The stores were also crowded with serious shoppers, and, no, not all of them were tourists. There was a lunchtime line of customers at J. Crew waiting to check out. The retailer still has summer sales, but it is promoting a sexy secretary look for fall, with solid-color pencil skirts and cashmere pullovers. There were two turquoise skirts ($120) left on the rack.
I cruised through Barneys, noting the arrival of the Junya Watanabe line, one of my favorite fall collections, and an abundance of pumps — the style of the season — and fur vests. I saw a good-looking pair of Balenciaga pumps for about $575. To say that some brands seem to have made an effort to hold down prices is poor consolation when you see $1,000 jersey dresses and $700 crepe blouses. There are some wild prices: for example, a $4,200 Gucci fur vest at Bergdorf. There are enough variations around, in either real or fake fur, that you don’t have to spend that much. Nonetheless, I sensed a greater amount of realism without sacrificing style.