A New York Fashion Week Restrospective: Why You May Want to Try FNO Solo

At the Maybelline New York tent in the Meatpacking District. Would you brave these crowds alone???

The past four Septembers have kicked off fashion week season with a global shopping phenomenon called Fashion’s Night Out. And for each of those four Septembers, we at Second City Style (SCS) have armed ourselves with credit cards and (not so) comfortable shoes and embarked into the beckoning stores of New York City with high hopes for celebrity sightings, free champagne and even a great deal or two. And until this year, each of those Septembers has also been a reason to catch up with friends, discuss games plans for the week prior, and try and relax and have a little fun before the madness begins to ensue. But what if you decided to go it all alone?
As fun as friends are on arguably the biggest night of public revelry next to New Years Eve, you always seem to end up losing out. Like missing the “no crowds” chunk of time at your favorite store because you were stuck waiting around for people to meet up. Or not getting to check out that One Night Only Collection you had your eye on because your friends didn’t feel like stopping. And it always seems like, when in a group, you tend to end up somewhere just as the champagne has run out and the gift bags have all been given away.
FNO’s I Love NY car by Bond No. 9

The controversial side of FNO: Anti-shopping protestors (oh yes, they do exist.)

Well this year I decided to reap everything this teeming city had to offer and allow the streets to be my only company (at the very least, I figured, more champagne for me!). And I’ve since compiled my notes from this solo sojourn into that night, and come up with a whopping 5 reasons why next year you may want to (and 1 reason why you may not) turn your cell off and trust your instincts about navigating FNO alone.
1. You make great timing.
As soon as 6 p.m. hit that night I was out of my office like a shot. No waiting around, no trading texts back and forth. Just me, at my own pace in (finally) comfortable shoes trying to cover as much ground before the crowds hit. What I learned from this method of starting early is that though most stores kick off their events at 6, people don’t really start showing up till around 7:30 (probably because they’re all waiting around for their friends.) With the pep in my step and my ‘can do’ attitude I covered three, count ’em THREE neighborhoods on FNO night without the use of any cabs. And they said it could never be done…
Another perk of coming out early: free food samples! Compliments of Lean Cuisine.

2. You actually get to shop.
I didn’t start forming a game plan until the morning of the festivities. I combed every media outlet I could find with a list of the must-do activities. Since there’s close to a billion options I picked out the ones I thought looked fun (bonus: not having to factor in  anyone else’s fun quotient) and made a bee line to those places first, many of which were walkable. M Missoni in Soho was having a special deal on their new line of headphones and I just so happened to be in the market for a new pair. Once inside the store I had a glass of champagne in my hand a personal stylist at my side since I was one of the first people there. After a consultation over color choice, I purchased my new headphones for their special uber-cheap price, swigged the last of my bubbly, and booked it out of there. The whole endeavor took maybe 12 minutes tops. Similar occurrences took place later at both NARS and DKNY in terms of attentive sales people and exclusive deals. Two of my favorite things!
My M Missoni headphones! Except I got them in pink.

3. You can make new friends.
Sometimes when we’re with our own peeps we get so insulated that you don’t pause to look around and realize that we have something in common with the tens of thousands of FNO partygoers around us: we’re all out that night! Riding solo affords you that chance to approach a girl on the street and ask her where she got the pink Benefit poker chip. She’ll point you in the direction of a similarly pink tent set up on the corner where you can acquire your own chip, play a round of Beauty Blackjack, and end up with that cute coral blush you’ve been wanting to try. See? It pays to be friendly. Which also leads me to….
Benefit poker chip leads to…..

Benefit Beauty Blackjack (and prizes!)

4. You get to flirt.
Not that you can’t do this with your friends. But I got approached by several guys while I wandered around Soho and the West Village alone. Some were bewildered by the masses and asked what was going on, then struck up a conversation (promising.) Some asked where I got my cute gift bag (not as promising.) And some just came up to me and handed me coupons (also not promising, but definitely the cutest.) Unlike the typical gaggle of glamazons seen flouncing around FNO, a girl walking alone with bags of stuff reads one thing: not threatening. I even walked to Marc Jacobs in the Village with one of the promising guys…and then he started to look at satchels.
Hi boys! The cute guys of C Wonder’s street team, handing out balloons.

5. You get good stuff.
In spite of #1 and despite #2, I walked away with some strut-worthy swag that night, mainly from getting into places before they got mobbed. Many stores in Soho had ‘First 100 People’ stuff which I graciously accepted from three separate places. Sometimes the “stuff” wasn’t even objects. At the NARS flagship on Bleecker I got a one-on-one makeup consultation of the new 413 Bleecker collection (named after the store) with their key makeup artist for the night. You can’t buy that kind of attention! And sure, I did have to cut down on my champs quota in order to get to each place before everyone else did. But while everyone else was standing around toasting the night, I was out there fully enjoying it.
The sleek new eye colors and matte velvet lip pencil of the NARS Bleecker 413 collection.

And finally, 1 good reason I would call my friends back for next year:
1. They would never let you wait in line.
I really wanted to get to DVF in the Meatpacking before the crowds got there. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky. I really just wanted to check and see if they had received her new perfume (see: #2) and check out whatever other deals they were offering. But the rest of the free world was there to see Solange Knowles DJ and so, if I had any chance of going in, I would have to brave the block-wrapped-around line. Normally I would never do this since a) I’ve actually seen Solange Knowles DJ twice before at various fashion events and b) as a hard-working member of the fashion media I think I can speak for most when I say, we don’t wait in lines! Alas, I had no one to remind me of this and, since I was on my own schedule I figured why not?……FORTY-FIVE minutes later after playing Words With Friends with everyone I know, I made it into the store which was a huge disappointment. No perfume, no more drinks, and a barely visible Solange Knowles looking exactly the same as the last two times I saw her. Moral of the story? Friends don’t let friends stand in line.
The FNO window displays of DVF, as seen from the horrible, horrible line.

Hope this was helpful in you forming your battle plan for next September and the Fifth Fashion’s Night Out. But with a group or flying solo, just relax and have fun since for so many of us, it’s just the beginning!
-Alia Rajput
Photo Source: Second City Style

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