Every year, journalists, buyers and fashion lovers alike descend on the Big Apple for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but there are just as many "off the runway" events that take place during those seven days. Let's take a look…
Events: First up is Fashion's Night Out, the brainchild of Vogue magazine celebrated editor, Anna Wintour. Wintour was inspired by Paris' annual Nuit des Musees (Night of the Museums), in which participating museums stay open one May night until 11 p.m. Fashion's Night Out began in NYC in 2009 as an effort to revive the shopping and retail industry. Now seen as the official start to Fashion Week, this year, FNO took place Sept. 6 in 18 countries. The United States alone hosted approximately 4,500 events that included not only fashion but also fortune-tellers, celebrity appearances and complimentary drinks.
In Baltimore, the Harbor East area held events, all within walking distance. In Washington, D.C., Georgetown played host. In New York, the events were spread out from Chelsea to mid-town, which made catching a cab tough and flats a necessity. The events kicked-off at 6 p.m. and most ended around 11 p.m.
Lounges are a great space for show attendees and writers to catch their breath. Inside Lincoln Center are designated areas where journalists and photographers can plug in their laptops and crank out their work, but they fill up fast. Directly across the street from Lincoln Center, Elle magazine and Macy's set up a suite inside the Empire Hotel to welcome registered guests. Inside the lounge, one could grab a drink, a bite or a break from the large crowds. Dream Downtown hosted the Diet Coke lounge for attendees seeing shows at the off-site venue Milk Studios, just a few streets over from the hotel.
Bendel's treats: Stylish clothes were walking down the runway, but fashionable eats were popping up at the upscale women's specialty store, Henri Bendel. With the tagline "made with unique ingredients sourced from Brooklyn to Belgium, enjoy food that's chic enough to eat," the retailer launched its own line of snazzy food products. The snacks have names such as "Truffle your Feather," "Girls Playground Tea" and "Bendel Bar with 24K Gold and Dark Chocolate" and are sold at the flagship store in New York as well as online and in other Bendel stores across the country.
Celebrity sightings: There is no shortage of celebrities and sports stars at New York Fashion Week. Whether it's Robert Verdi walking down Ninth Avenue or Christiane Amanpour enjoying lunch at the adjacent table, you never know who you might see while the shows are in town. The one sighting that did catch me off guard happened at my hotel. With plans to attend a magazine party that evening, I hit the "Lobby" button in the elevator and continued typing out an email on my phone. Before reaching the ground floor, the doors opened and a highly styled blonde walked into the elevator and began fixing her hair in the mirror, which paneled the back wall of the elevator. I looked up to say hello and it was none other than Paris Hilton. We rode the remaining floors in silence, I immersed in my phone and she prepping for the night ahead of her. I, for once, was speechless.