Music stars and industry VIPs grace the front rows of New York Fashion Week each season, but at this year's Fashion's Night Out, they mingled with everyday fans. As retail stores ranging from Nine West to Balenciaga opened their doors to the public on Friday night (Sept. 10) to help kick off Fashion Week's Spring 2011 installment, thousands hit the streets of SoHo and 5th Avenue dressed to impress, ready to shop and eager to spot a few celebs.
One of the night's most hectic scenes went down at the Billionaire Boys Club flagship store in SoHo, where its famous owner -- N.E.R.D. frontman and superproducer Pharrell Williams -- arrived on a float carrying bandmates Chad Hugo and Shae Haley, and singer Chris Brown. On hand inside were Kanye West, Roc Nation artist Rita Ora and Ryan Leslie, who all enjoyed a short N.E.R.D. set that included new single "Hot-n-Fun," old favorite "Lapdance" and an as-yet unreleased cut entitled "Party People." Those lucky enough to make it inside before West tweeted that he was on his way, attracting hundreds of fans to the store, were treated to an exclusive listening of N.E.R.D.'s upcoming album, "Nothing," as well as some face time with Williams, Brown and Ryan Leslie.
Gwen Stefani drew throngs to Sephora just a few blocks away, where she was signing bottles of her new fragrance, Wicked Style. As fans pressed against the store windows and banged against the glass, the No Doubt frontwoman, flanked by her Harajuku girls, climbed over the backdrop onto the windowsill to pose for admirers, driving them into even more of a frenzy.
Also promoting a new scent: Jennifer Lopez, who presented Love and Glamour to fans at Macy's Herald Square, then ducked out early to catch her husband Marc Anthony's tour opener at Madison Square Garden. At Bloomngdale's, the Black Eyed Peas own Taboo -- in town to launch his new TabooXJump shoe line -- staged an impromptu concert after asking the DJ to play his hit song "I Gotta Feeling," and thrilled fans by teaching them a few hip-hop dance moves.
Funk-soul starlet Janelle Monae headlined an exclusive event at the Ralph Lauren store, where Jessica Alba, new Knicks star Amar'e Stoudemire and Vogue contributing editor Andre Leon Talley were also in attendance. Before performing her singles "Tightrope" and "Cold War" and a cover of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," Monae was introduced to the crowd by Talley. "She is the new Dietrich. Marlene, that is," gushed the fashion guru, who had just complimented Alba on her sparkling ensemble.
Joss Stone held post at the 5th Avenue location of Nine West, for which the singer has designed a shoe line dubbed Vintage America Collection. Stone told Billboard.com that contrary to popular belief, she loves shoes -- she simply doesn't wear them when she performs onstage. As if to further prove her point, Stone said she recently rescued three cats and named them Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Vivienne Westwood. To promote her new collaboration, Stone recorded a new song entitled "Back in Style" (available at ninewest.com/vintageamerica), which she started penning at age 16 -- about a boy whom she called a "bastard" -- and updated for the collection.
Just before her performance at the Teen Vogue/ASOS.com party, U.K. singer VV Brown, who has just come off the road with Maroon 5, chatted with Billboard.com about how she'll soon start recording the follow-up to her celebrated album, "Traveling Like the Light." The project should have "a darker feel" and be "a lot more mature," according to Brown, who added that in order to write she needs to strip away the perks of newfound celebrity and "go back to riding the bus and eating mac and cheese." The new album should come out sometime early next year. Brown donned a plum colored velvet ASOS dress and caramel color peep-toes, which she promptly removed before taking the stage and performing songs including "Everybody" and "Shark in the Water."
Model and singer/songwriter Karen Elson, whose new album "The Ghost Who Walks" was produced by husband Jack White, laughed and sipped wine between performing album cuts "The Birds They Circle" and "Stolen Roses" at Balenciaga's Fashion's Night Out fête. Elson's fire-red hair and bluegrass melodies provided a nice contrast to the clean and simple Chelsea studio, as a fashion-savvy crowd guzzled free champagne and swayed along to the music. It may have been one of the more subdued and exclusive scenes of the night, but it was no less festive.
(Reporting by Monica Herrera, Rachel Been, Elizabeth Hurst, Kerri Bergman, Alexandra Hartz, Gabriella Landman, Mariel Concepcion, and Palika Makam)