Lifting the Velvet Rope: Fashion's Night Out Brings Glamour to the Masses

On Fashion's Night Out, it wasn't just "everyone who is anyone," but everyone who decided to wander into a store and be a part of the fashion industry's biggest party of the year.
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Let's face it, "fashion makes people very nervous." Ms. Wintour could not have been more correct (not that anyone would ever tell her otherwise). In the recently released documentary The September Issue Anna Wintour and the other caricatures at Vogue began to blur the lines between the glamour of fashion and the realities of everyday life for their millions of readers. The film was a chance for the Vogue audience, and even for those who dismiss fashion as utterly pretentious and unnecessary, to be part of a world that seemingly has only ever been accessible to the average person through glossy magazine pages. The September Issue turned audiences away from the Devil Wears Prada-esque mockery of high end clothes, over-the-top photo shoots and cold hearted insiders. It sparked the beginning of a deeply personal democratization of fashion, one that is, at its core, unapologetically human, incredibly enlightening, and insanely fun. The fashion industry, it seems, is trying to be born again. And this season, you don't even need a ticket to the Bryant Park tents to see it happen.

This is my first fashion week in New York. In my head I dreamed of sitting first or second row at Marc Jacobs, sunglasses on and with a stoic stare to match those of the fashion editors surrounding me. A girl can dream, right? Alas, my intern status did not suffice for full-on "fabulosity" or "It-girl" recognition. However, although I did not receive any V.I.P. invites to the tents, last night I was given the chance to experience seven days of fashion in just five short hours... along with hundreds of thousands of people across the city.

Around 6 P.M., I accompanied my boss and a couple of her friends to Fashion's Night Out; a global effort to get people to shop and start spending money again in an attempt to bolster the struggling economy. Although cities like London and Tokyo were participants as well, perhaps the largest effort was made here in New York City. Anna Wintour, along with Mayor Bloomberg and the CFDA, created an evening where stores would stay open until 11 P.M., celebrities and designers would make appearances, and famous DJ's would be spinning the latest hits.

The catch? There wasn't one. In fact, there was no velvet rope or any sort of list. I didn't need an invitation to walk past the paparazzi and mingle with some of Vogue's top editors and infamous fashion designers. It was the most glamorous city-wide block party I had ever seen. From uptown to downtown, cross-town and in the other boroughs, the spirit was lively and sort of liberating. And I think in the end, the night's success did not come from the consumer's pockets, but rather from the lifting of their spirits.

As we hopped from store to store (thirteen to be exact), I kept thinking about Anna's quote from The September Issue. "Fashion makes people very nervous." The truth is, for many years, it has. Last night, however, Anna Wintour proved herself wrong. Exclusivity is definitely out this season. The fashion industry prides itself on reinvention and innovation; two things that this country desperately needs right now. And although it was hard at times, last night I tried to look past the glitz and glamour and gimmicks that drew most of the crowd, to see what this was really all about. The bottom line is that, no matter how many people I saw actually holding shopping bags, or how many celebrities endorsed a certain label, everyone was having fun. Everyone came together and everyone celebrated a new season. Everyone sipped champagne and everyone admired the clothes. And for once it wasn't just "everyone who is anyone," but it was everyone who, on that particular evening, decided to wander into a store and be a part of the fashion industry's biggest party of the year.

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