Saturday, 10 September 2011

Fashion's Night Out London 2011 Highlights

Louis Vuitton

Makeovers and must-haves, fashion and festivities, carnival and costumes, bloggers and buyers, celebrities and celebrations - Vogue's Fashion Night Out had London alive with activity tonight, a balmy evening that made it feel like summer's final fling before the fashion industry knuckles down to a month of international spring/summer 2012 collections - and everyone else looks forward to autumn, preferably with at least one or two wardrobe additions acquired tonight to make it that little bit more tantalising.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Far more than just a shopathon, though, this event - now in its third year - has become a spectacle that is as much about music, food, creative party ideas and fun as it is about the serious business of retail - Rupert Sanderson threw a full-on, Seventies-themed roller disco in his Bruton Place store; Charlotte Dellal was hand-painting shoes in hers; Jonathan Saunders and Erdem were customising the Rob Ryan-illustrated FNO t-shirts in Harvey Nicks; there were manicures in Smythson; face painting, fortune telling and Alice Gold on the decks in Mulberry; Mary Charteris and The Big Pink's Robbie Furze (who chose tonight to announce their engagement - congratulations!), were DJ-ing in All Saints (once she'd finished her VogueTV presenting stint); Liberty Ross playing in Dior (Madonna's Like A Prayer was her opener); Browns founder Mrs Burstein - dignified and smiling as ever in plum-coloured Lanvin with a Missoni scarf - Alice Temperley and Matthew Williamson were in store meeting, greeting and styling their fans ("There's no such thing as not being 'in season' when you love a piece of clothing," was Mrs B's mantra); Lola Lennox was DJ-ing in Gap on Oxford Street; Johnny Borrell DJ-ing with Florence & The Machine guitarist Rob Ackroyd at Juicy Couture; Coach took the opportunity to open its first London flagship store with Gwyneth Paltrow there as their star guest, followed by David Gandy who was surrounded by his signature gaggle of swooning girls; and Roland Mouret was marking his 50th birthday ("the last of five parties to  celebrate it," he told us "I feel part of the club now I'm 50."), in Mount Street.

The streets were filled with thousands of people in their highest heels and most glad of rags in the hope of being caught on VogueTV or snapped by their team of street chic photographers; queuing up to bowl with Hermes bangles in a horsebox outside the Bond Street store; posing for all they were worth with Anya Hindmarch handbags to try and win one or simply looking out for the high calibre of celebrities who were just as keen for a piece of the action: Samantha Cameron popped in to Vogue's opening party at Asprey; Emma Thompson was spotted on South Molton Street; Daisy Lowe, Henry Holland, Pixie Geldof, Cara Delevingne, Holly Valance, Erin O'Connor (in Hermes accessorised with Asprey), Jade Parfitt and Jacquetta Wheeler (both in Louis Vuitton), were all out and about too, as was Lulu Kennedy (in Michael van der Horst and Nicholas Kirkwood for Roksanda shoes with a Simone Rocha Perspex clutch) - with her Lulu & Co crew in tow, before they converged at Liberty which had thrown a Honolulu (geddit?)-themed Hawaiian party for her. Live music vibrated through Mayfair until well after 10pm - Yasmin and Kyla La Grange gave open air performances and a choir of children from KidsCo, for whom all this is a fundraiser - brought the shopping to a momentary standstill, before they sprang into break dancing action later on; Wolf Gang played live in Burberry and Livia Firth and Laura Bailey co-hosted a dance off, no less, in Stella McCartney.

"I love Fashion's Night Out because I can shop and drink at the same time," joked Henry Holland. "And I do actually shop - tonight I'm saving myself for Liberty and I'm going to buy some Lulu&Co for my mum."

For Matthew Williamson it's about much more than sales figures. "It's a proper celebration of British fashion and it's about brand building and having fun with people who have a keen interest in fashion," he told us. "Though having said that, I have just sold a dress to someone I thought would be an unlikely buyer - so we're capturing new customers too."

Matthew Williamson

"We don't sell many shoes on Fashion's Night Out because we make it pretty bloody difficult for people to buy anything," admitted Rupert Sanderson as he climbed off the dancefloor after bopping with Mary Charteris. "Mainly because we've filled the store with slightly drunk people on roller skates - but it might inspire a collection of its own I suppose - Rupert Sanderson roller skates… that's a thought."

"It's a great way to celebrate British retail, especially with this fear of the second stage of the global economic meltdown," said Alice Temperley, whose husband Lars was DJ-ing as she chatted with her customers in Selfridges. "It's lovely to meet everybody and it's great to be here - it makes so much sense for the stores and for the shoppers."

For sustenance, there were Hakkasan canapés in Diane Von Furstenberg, Haagen Dazs miniatures in Matthew Williamson, Innocent smoothie vans in Bruton Street, ice creams and Champagne on South Molton Street, Little Red Sole cocktails at Christian Louboutin and hundreds of cup cakes and teacups of Champagne at Roland Mouret - no expense was spared and there was really no excuse not to join in.