UPDATE 1-Fashion’s night out expands party to lure shoppers

(Adds details in New York)

* Fashion shopping drive spreads to 100 U.S. cities

* Celebrities, designers and public to mingle

* Event aims to make shopping a cultural outing

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK, Sept 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Clothing retailers and
big-name fashion designers around the world joined together on
Friday at festive promotional events aimed at enticing
recession-weary shoppers to go on a spending spree.

“Fashion’s Night Out,” the brainchild of Vogue magazine
editor Anna Wintour, was designed to jump-start an industry
battered by the global recession. Events were set in Australia,
Asia, Europe and 100 U.S. cities from New York to Los Angeles.

In New York, fashion hubs like Soho and Madison Ave were
mobbed with shoppers who dressed up, sipped cocktails or
mingled with designers Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang
and Donna Karan.

“The whole city is having fun, it’s happy,” von Furstenberg
said inside her store, describing the event as an “incredible”
phenomenon that had “spread all around the world.”

In Milan, tens of thousands of fashion-hungry shoppers and
party-goers flooded the Italian fashion capital’s small streets
for a party on Thursday, hoping to rub elbows with big-name
designers at Valentino and Prada who offered champagne and
artistic performances.

“This city, usually, is dead at night, and that’s not
because of the downturn,” said fashion legend Giorgio Armani.

London events featured actress Gwyneth Paltrow and model
Claudia Schiffer.

‘NATIONAL HOLIDAY FOR SHOPPING’

More than 1,000 New York stores and galleries mixed
fashion, art and celebrity events, including a Valentino
charity poker tournament, karaoke and a best-in-show event with
designers and their dogs at Bergdorf Goodman.

Naomi Campbell performed a fist-pump dance to rapper
Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” at Dolce & Gabbana, where Wintour made
an appearance. A crowd gathered outside Gant to watch a
bare-chested male model pretend to take a shower behind a
screen.

“Its a party,” said Camille Noel, 30, who was
window-shopping on Fifth Ave, but didn’t plan to buy. “If
something catches my eye, we’ll see, but that’s not why I’m
out.”

An ice rink in Houston was transformed into a fashion
runway, Cirque du Soleil performers were playing in
Washington’s streets, Miami was hosting a shoppers’ block party
and shoppers on Rodeo Drive could take free rides on a Ferris
wheel in Los Angeles.

“It has spread very rapidly …. It’s almost like we have
created a new national holiday for shopping,” said Steven Kolb,
head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

The night was aimed at turning around shoppers worn down by
economic hard times. But many retailers said do not measure the
precise economic impact of the event and some conceded it was
more of a social event than sales boost.

Foot traffic jumped in New York stores after last year’s
event by 50 percent, according to research firm ShopperTrak.

NYC & Company, the city’s tourism and marketing company,
found 75 percent of shoppers bought something in a survey of
1,300 consumers. Von Furstenberg hoped to top the $60,000 she
estimated the store made last year.

Saks Fifth Avenue expanded the event to 34 U.S. stores,
offering dance lesson with designers. Chief executive Steve
Sadove called it “a perfect way to kick off the fall season.”

Cesar Roman, 24, said the events made shopping less
intimidating.

“You don’t have to be a millionaire to come out tonight,
that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Basil Katz and
Gemma Haines in New York and Antonella Ciancio and Ilaria
Polleschi in Milan; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Stacey
Joyce)

UPDATE 1-Fashion’s night out expands party to lure shoppers