Hey, big spenders

Can Anna Wintour use her connections to kick-start the economy?

"There's this slightly psychological block against shopping right now," says the American Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
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Brace yourself, recession. You might be the biggest, baddest economic maelstrom to come along for decades but tonight you face an arm wrestle with the US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Fashion's Night Out is a global evening of celebration that Wintour developed during Paris Fashion Week earlier this year when she invited editors of Vogue's myriad international editions to breakfast at the Ritz. One imagines they picked at bits of fruit, sipped black tea and listened to Wintour's idea.

The plan was as follows: Wintour would use her address book and mighty clout to browbeat designers, celebrities, models and just about anybody useful in fashion into an evening in New York City, where stores would stay open late and hold various celebratory events. She wanted a night to celebrate fashion, to inject enthusiasm back into shopping and to get those cash tills singing out once again. Never mind that people were losing jobs; what they needed was a night of spending money. "I think there is this slightly psychological block against shopping right now," she noted, in an interview with WWD.

Other countries in which Vogue is published were to follow suit, and the grand list of participating satellites now includes the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, Russia, Brazil, India, Japan, China and Taiwan. There has been plenty of frothy publicity for the evening. The website (www.fashionsnightout.com) features a video advertisement with Sarah Jessica Parker, Vera Wang and P Diddy. "New Yorkers are always in fashion," they say, speaking in turn as if in a classroom.

We learn that the fashion industry in New York employs 175,000 people and generates $10 billion (Dh37 billion) a year in wages. "Fashion is big," growls Diddy, emphasising the point by stretching his arms open. Nearly as big as his gold necklace, perhaps. "Let's make shopping fun again," they all trill. It's "Fashion's Night Out", laughs Wintour. Yes, that's actually her laughing. "Spend a little bit of money," pipes in Diddy, jiggling in a kind of morris dance.

Plans started in earnest in May, when the New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the initiative and put this brief visual feast up on the website. Wintour then announced that she would be kicking off her night at Macy's in Queens. In her recent interview with David Letterman, Wintour looked like she gagged a little when she mentioned Queens, but rest assured she is not soldiering there alone. The mayor and the designer Michael Kors will be there, too. "I don't sing or dance or do anything like that," Wintour told WWD modestly, so she has also enlisted the cast of Hair to perform.

More than 700 stores will remain open until 11.00pm. Other highlights include Oscar de la Renta singing in his Madison Avenue Boutique, Justin Timberlake in a pop-up shop in Saks, Kate Hudson putting in an appearance at Stella McCartney's eco-inspired evening at her Meatpacking District shop, Alexa Chung on the DJ decks in Chanel's downtown store and Victoria Beckham showing at Bergdorf Goodman. Proceeds from T-shirts sold will go to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Elsewhere in the world, there will be similar shopping orgies. In London, more than 200 stores have signed up. Dover Street Market, also celebrating its fifth birthday, will feature appearances from Christopher Kane, Gareth Pugh and Hussein Chalayan. At Browns, fashion bods such as Charlotte Dellal and Jonathan Saunders will be behind the tills. Selfridges has created a special fashion ice cream for the evening, coloured black. Natch.

In Paris, the action is centred around Avenues Montaigne and Charles V. The editor of French Vogue Carine Roitfeld and Karl Lagerfeld will be minding the Chanel boutique. In Brazil, there will be parties in upscale malls in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo with appearances from some of Brazil's most loved soap opera stars. In Moscow, Vogue has taken over Red Square; in New Delhi, Burberry will host a British-themed party in the DLF luxury mall; in Berlin, Mercedes Benz will shuttle VIPs and shoppers between the city's two main shopping districts, split according to the old East-West divide.

About 22,000 people are expected to flock to the three main shopping areas in Madrid; in Tokyo, more than 200 shops will stay open late and Christian Dior will show off a window display created in collaboration with Vogue. China is holding the evening under an art-meets-fashion banner in Beijing; Milan has a goal of 300 brands on 30 streets; in Taiwan there's a special lighting ceremony in the Taipei 101 tower, and Athens boasts 195 stores all ready and waiting to take your money.

Whoever said fashion was fickle?