BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | After its New York version was marred by an ugly incident last year, Fashion’s Night Out is “going on hiatus.”
On Wednesday it was announced that the international event started by Anna Wintour — American Vogue’s editor in chief and a Greenwich Village resident — has been canceled for 2013 in New York City, as well as throughout the entire U.S.
Last September, Fashion’s Night Out was marred by a particularly bizarre and violent incident in Noho. A mob of hyped-up revelers — egged on by an ornery bicyclist with a chip on his shoulder — surrounded a brain surgeon who was driving home from work in his Audi. Some of the crowd jumped up and down on the man’s car, and, as onlookers cheered wildly, finally kicked out its front and back windows before police arrived to quell the mayhem.
The incident prompted neighborhood residents — particularly in Soho — to demand that the annual event be better regulated, or move to another neighborhood. Free alcohol given out by fashion boutiques fuels a volatile situation, the event’s critics say.
A statement posted this week on the Fashion’s Night Out’s Web site, stated, “Launched in New York City at the height of the 2009 recession, Fashion’s Night Out was a celebration of shopping during a time when it was sorely needed. By 2012, F.N.O. had expanded to stores in over 500 cities nationwide and 30 cities around the globe.
“After four exciting and successful years, 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. The event will still be held in select international cities.”
The Web site noted that Fashion’s Night Out has raised more than $1.5 million for the New York City AIDS Fund in the New York Community Trust.
The Soho Alliance was quick to take credit for the event’s cancellation, not just in New York, but all across America.
“Fashion’s Night Out, the international promotional event started by Anna “The Devil Wears Prada” Wintour, announced today that it was canceling the event throughout the U.S. next year, in what most view as a reaction to our complaints that the event had become a zoo in Soho and an embarrassment to Wintour,” Sean Sweeney, the Alliance’s director, said in an e-mail blast.
“For the past several years, the event deteriorated in Soho as crowds of underage kids showed up to grab the booze that the retailers freely doled out, roamed the streets well past midnight, carousing half-drunk, urinating in our doorways, screaming, trashing and creating general disorder, including the attack on a motorist on Broadway and Bleecker St. last year.
“Our calls to Vogue for a meeting to try to work things out were never returned.
“Disgusted that Wintour showed such contempt toward our neighborhood, the Soho Alliance reached out to the community board, the Mayor’s Office, the N.Y.P.D., the Sanitation Department and the media for help — and to embarrass the fashionistas.
“Our efforts paid off,” Sweeney declared. “Apparently, it would have been too humiliating for Wintour to admit yielding to our pressure and to cancel the event only in New York. So she threw the baby out with the bathwater, canceling it nationwide — yet still maintaining the event internationally.
“It’s gratifying to have our neighborhood back for ourselves for that night!” Sweeney crowed. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
Sweeney added that in an e-mail blast after last year’s Fashion’s Night Out, the Soho Alliance had promised to demonstrate in front of Wintour’s Village home, “to see how she’d like to see it trashed the way she trashed ours.”
However, Kelly Magee, communications director for Councilmember Margaret Chin, said Sweeney neglected to mention that it was Chin who, after last year’s incident, actually sat down with Mayor’s Office to talk about comprehensive reforms of the event. Chin also wrote a letter to Bloomberg right after last year’s event, to express her “extreme concern,” declaring that Fashion’s Night Out, “as currently managed, is inappropriate for the Soho community.”
Responding to the announcement that the sartorial extravaganza is taking a year off in New York, Chin said, “Last year’s Fashion’s Night Out showed our city at its worst. The event, which is meant to promote the fashion industry, was blighted by violence and shockingly disturbing behavior by some individuals patronizing F.N.O. events in Soho. I am glad to see that F.N.O. is taking a hiatus to refocus their efforts. I hope that in the future, F.N.O. is more responsive to the needs of the communities in which it is held.”