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Fashion's Night Out Cancelled Following SoHo Mayhem Last Fall

By Andrea Swalec | February 27, 2013 12:55pm | Updated on February 27, 2013 1:45pm

MANHATTAN — After huge crowds flooded the streets of SoHo in September and smashed the windshield of a car while its driver sat inside during Fashion's Night Out festivities, the event has been cancelled for fall 2013 Fashion Week.

Organizers of the Anna Wintour-backed style extravaganza announced Wednesday morning the event that brings celebrities, DJs and free drinks into city shops is being put on hold so designers and retailers can focus on their brands, not a single event.

"Fashion's Night Out will go on hiatus in the United States in 2013 in order to enable retailers to channel their resources toward strategies more in keeping with their current priorities," a statement on the website for the event occurring in more than 500 cities nationwide says.

As Women's Wear Daily first reported, organizers also cited the improved economy as a reason for the cancellation. Vogue magazine, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and New York's tourism agency launched FNO in 2009 to give the industry a boost.

NYC & Company declined to comment on whether security concerns contributed to the decision to cancel the event, and neither Vogue nor the CFDA immediately responded to inquiries.

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, said she hoped FNO would listen to locals if they plan to reinstate the event in the future.

"Last year's Fashion's Night Out in SoHo was blighted by violence and shockingly inappropriate behavior," she said in a statement. "It is my hope that the organizers take use of this hiatus as a opportunity to reform Fashion's Night Out and make it more responsive to the needs of the SoHo community." 

Community Board 2 chair David Gruber also said the cancellation announcement was welcome news.

"The Broadway Corridor part [of FNO] was completely out of hand," he said. "There are many people in this area who will be happy this was suspended."

Laura Brainer, a spokeswoman for the NoHo clothing boutique Atrium said it was "bittersweet" that FNO won't be held this fall. Last year, the 644 Broadway shop brought in DJs and a tattoo artist, handed out rock-and-roll-inspired cocktails and parked a food truck outside that gave out free meatballs and fries.

Though the event was fun, it didn't boost sales, Brainer said.

"It's definitely more of a marketing event," she said. "No one shops during it."

In the West Village, Lulu Guinness store manager Fiona Bradley said she was shocked to hear FNO had been cancelled.

"It's always good to get people in the Village to come into the store if they haven't been before," she said, adding that in September the store offered a candy buffet and a red carpet where visitors could have their photo taken. 

In retail-heavy SoHo, stores were filled with fashion fans in September, but the event raised the ire of neighbors who said FNO brought excess noise, trash and disorder.

In one incident on Sept. 6, a swarm of people caught on video surrounded a man's Audi at Broadway and Bleecker Street and jumped on the vehicle, causing extensive damage.

Chin asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg to put more police on the streets for the 2013 event and suggested possibly closing streets to traffic, instituting a wristband system to help prevent minors from being served alcohol, and creating separate entry points for FNO revelers and neighborhood residents.

In September, an NYC & Company spokesman declined to talk about specific security upgrades for 2013 but said making the event "an even greater success" was a top priority.

According to its website, FNO raised more than $1.5 million for the NYC AIDS Fund over the last four years.