Bergdorf was the place to be last night, with A-list designers packing the department store to the gills by night’s end. The Observer walked into the store around six, making our way through a maze of police fences and security guards. Although burly bouncers aplenty were stationed outside the store and lines of barricades organized to keep shoppers in line, only a few aspiring fashionistas had gathered. We scoffed at the over planning even as we walked in the door. And then we walked downstairs….
What had otherwise appeared to be a normal, civil shopping experience at the high-end retailer was transformed into a veritable mob scene as we descended the escalator into the cosmetics department. Hundreds of people had convened to see Oscar de la Renta, hoping to have the designer sign anything in sight. A line, several hundred strong, had wrapped around the Chanel make-up counter, and Mr. de la Renta stood in the center, holding court over the island of overpriced lipsticks and foundations.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Anna Wintour appeared, waif like but (gasp) smiling. The whole evening was her idea, after all, conceived in 2009 as a way to get the public more involved in the Fashion Week festivities.
The crowd tightened as Ms. Wintour, preceded by a host of bodyguards, entered the makeup counter alongside Mr. de la Renta. “I’m not claustrophobic, but man I’m getting there,” a Bergdorf salesgirl said through a thick Jersey accent.
Meanwhile, waiters carried silver trays of tiny cupcakes around the room, as attendees hungrily grabbed and devoured them. The Observer talked to a few guests, asking what brought them to Fashion’s Night Out.
Eva, a Canadian student, had traveled with her friends for the occasion. “This is our second year. We were going to Tiffany’s and we decided to stop by,” she said. Asked if they had known Ms. Wintour would make an appearance, Eva claimed she didn’t know beforehand, but her trusty phone had alerted her that the first lady of fashion would show up. “We were just checking Twitter and someone said she was going to be here,” she said excitedly, standing on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of that famous bob.
We surveyed the crowd, directed in circles by clueless staffers who were trying desperately to maintain some semblance of order. We ran into Neville, a high-school student who was practically hyperventilating with excitement as he proudly brandished an Oscar de la Renta signature on a blank page of his sketchbook. “I just love Oscar de la Renta. He’s such an amazing designer,” the teen said. “It’s a big dream for me to meet him. And I got two pictures with him!” We asked Neville if he had seen Ms. Wintour. He sighed. “Yes, but I didn’t get to meet her. She’s like the high priestess of fashion.”
Feeling rather like a mouse running through a maze, we took the escalator up a floor to discover what else the store had to offer….