NEW YORK -- Fashion's Night Out, the shopping initiative driven by Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour, returns as a bigger event next month, extending to 250 U.S. cities. But there seems to be a sharper focus on industry stars -- including designers, red carpet experts, and makeup artists -- instead of the Hollywood celebrities who grabbed headlines the past two years.
The event aims to draw consumers into stores on one night during the all-important fall retail season by making shopping an exciting, interactive experience with how-to sessions, music, refreshments and glimpses of insider glamour.
This year's FNO is Sept 8, with New York still clearly its home base, but many national retailers and mall operators joining in: For example, stylists will be at select Nordstrom stores, and Neiman Marcus has special events planned at more than two dozen locations.
Don't live in a big city? Shopbop.com is streaming footage of its fashion gurus visiting stores, and QVC plans a live broadcast, including a fashion show.
The buzz, however, will likely still come from Manhattan, where Michael Kors plans to stand in the window at Bergdorf Goodman, Rachel Zoe will visit Bloomingdale's to debut her new collection and model Coco Rocha will talk up the Karl Lagerfeld line at Macy's Herald Square. Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa are among the judges of Bergdorf's best-in-show dog contest, and Lloyd Boston gives you "seven ways to wear it" at Lord & Taylor.
At Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship, shoppers can have their photo snapped with Stella McCartney models and have it loaded to Facebook, and Yigal Azrouel is partnering with surf brand Sundeck to "surf" on simulators in the store.
The New York Jets Flight Crew Cheerleaders will be signing their 2012 calendar at Lord & Taylor.
It's not quite Naomi Campbell dancing in the streets -- which she did last year in front of Dolce & Gabbana -- but as FNO looks to become an annual appointment on the fall fashion calendar, there is a shift toward directing people to new merchandise and makeovers instead of jamming stores to get an autograph but otherwise leave empty-handed.
The inaugural FNO was held in 2009 as a way to restart sales after a disastrous year, especially at the luxury stores the recession hit very hard. ShopperTrak, an independent reporter of consumer traffic, estimates that night saw a 50 percent jump in retail foot traffic.
There is also a designated fundraising FNO collection, including a graphic T-shirt modeled on the website by Karlie Kloss and photographed by Craig McDean. Hundreds of stores will have FNO items that send 40 percent of proceeds to benefit The New York City AIDS Fund in the New York Community Trust. Meanwhile, Barneys New York announced it will donate 10 percent of sales from its Fifth Avenue store, as well as Barneys.com, to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
Additions and changes to this year's schedule are likely up until the night of the event.