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Fashion's Night Out Draws Celebs, Crowds to East Side

By Mary Johnson | September 7, 2012 8:24am

MIDTOWN EAST — Fashion’s Night Out turned Midtown East into a blur of retail activity on Thursday night, with shoppers shoving their way through crowds to snag special deals and celebrities drawing lines of fans swilling free champagne.

The neighborhood’s larger department stores used the prelude to Fashion Week to pull out a roster of celebrity guests. Bergdorf Goodman invited Alexander Wang, Padma Lakshmi and Cynthia Rowley to its Fashion’s Night Out festivities, while Saks Fifth Avenue played host to Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera and Bobbie Brown.

On Lexington Avenue near East 57th Street, women’s retail chain New York & Company hosted Stacy London, from TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” who greeted a line of guests that reached around the store’s first floor with individual fashion advice to suit each woman’s body type.

In addition to the bigger names in fashion, there were also a slew of other celebrities who made sporadic appearances. A group of friends in their early 20s snagged a few free drinks at Bloomingdale’s, enjoying their third stop on their first-ever Fashion’s Night Out excursion.

“We saw Miss Piggy,” said Brittany Anderson, 20, of the group’s celebrity encounters thus far.

“We saw the calendar guys from the FDNY,” added Melissa Alk, 21.

Prior to Bloomingdale’s, the group of five had stopped by DKNY and a boutique on Madison Avenue, the name of which no one could recall. They were attracted by a woman on stilts who was luring customers in off the street.

Abby Hess, who lives on the Upper East Side, swung by Bloomingdale's with her two daughters and their five friends, whose ages range from 13 to 15.

Hess took photographs as the teens straddled BMW motorcycles on display in front of the department store — the group’s first stop of the evening, Hess said. The plan after that was to work their way up Madison Avenue to Ladurée to nosh on some macarons, which, judging from the hors d’oeuvres selections at several stores, was the cookie of choice for Fashion’s Night Out.

“It’s really cute; they get dressed up.” Hess said of her youthful companions, noting that the best part of the evening was “seeing their excitement.”

Although much of the action was confined to the area around Bloomingdale’s, parts further east hosted their own Fashion’s Night Out parties, including Extraordinary, a shop specializing in home goods and gifts on East 57th Street near Second Avenue.

For the small shop on a relatively quiet retail stretch, this was its first time participating in Fashion’s Night Out.

J.R. Sanders, who owns Extraordinary, said he was inclined to join the festivities because of the free Fashion’s Night Out trolley, sponsored by the East Midtown Partnership, which was shepherding shoppers throughout the district all night long.

“We want chaos,” Sanders said.

The shop, which has been a neighborhood fixture for almost 15 years, set out free cookies and wine and rolled out a small red carpet at the front door to welcome Fashion’s Night Out crowds.

Sanders said a handful of people had hopped off the trolley and taken a lap or two around his store, which he said has the largest collection of serving trays in the city.

Several of those shoppers even became paying customers. One group enjoyed some cookies and wine, purchased a pair of cufflinks and then ordered a set of martini glasses.

“We try to get things that are a little out of the ordinary, a little on the edgy side,” Sanders said. “Each piece is different, unique.”