It’s a night like no other. Footwear News hit the town in New York and Los Angeles for Fashion’s Night Out on Thursday to go behind the scenes with some of the biggest names in the fashion business and their celebrity friends.
Manolo Blahnik and his business partner, George Malkemus, share the same taste in shoes — and songstresses, too. “We have a love affair with Cyndi Lauper,” said Malkemus, who gave the singer a glowing introduction before she performed in Blahnik’s New York store Thursday night. Lauper, who sported a pair of red over-the-knee boots custom made by Blahnik, performed an a cappella version of “True Colors.” “These are my stunning, kinky boots,” proclaimed the singer, who is behind the music for the new Broadway show “Kinky Boots.” “Everyone wants to feel sexy sometime, and there is nothing like feeling sexy with a boot,” Lauper told Spy. “I like the Manolo look because it’s sexy, but I switch back and forth between combat boots. It depends on the day, if I have to run around.” So as a fan of fashion, has Lauper ever considered a design career for herself? “I went to high school [for visual arts], but I flunked out.”
On the Move
It was a jam-packed night for Rachel Roy. The designer made a quick stop at Saks Fifth Avenue’s revamped shoe floor to greet shoppers before hopping on a plane to Charlotte, N.C. for the Democratic National Convention. (The designer traveled in style with Kim Kardashian on a private jet.) Roy, who planned to be back in town before her runway show on Tuesday, was seen sporting a pair of shoes from the upcoming spring collection. “I’m wearing shoes from the show tonight, which I probably shouldn’t,” the designer joked. “I’m trying really hard not to get them dirty.” … Other big names at Saks included Oscar De La Renta, New York Knick Amar’e Stoudemire and designer Rebecca Minkoff, who is holding her runway show Friday at Lincoln Center. Minkoff told Spy she drew a lot of inspiration from the work of photographer Slim Aarons. “I started looking at a ton of his photos and I was really inspired by that time period,” Minkoff said. “I sort of reimagined that lifeststyle and how it would work for a modern girl today.” So how does Minkoff look to wind down after a hectic show season? “I really don’t have a plan,” she said. “I just want to go back to working my normal 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours.”
Rachel Zoe is headed back to Bravo. The cable network announced this week that season five of “The Rachel Zoe Project” is in the works. And Zoe couldn’t be more excited: “It’s another job this season,” she quipped. The stylist-turned-designer was on hand at Piperlime’s brand new store in Soho for Fashion’s Night Out. And as a guest editor who regularly identifies must-have items for the website, Zoe offered a few tips for this season and beyond. Her No. 1 pick for spring? “An ankle boot makes me happy all year. It’s pretty fantastic.” And when it comes to fashion don’ts the style maven said a little goes a long way. “Go easy on animal prints or strong prints.”
After more than 30 years in the business, it’s no surprise that Vince Camuto feels at home on the sales floor. The designer and executive was on hand in his Soho store for Fashion’s Night Out, mingling with fans and selling quite a few pairs of shoes. “The customer is so much smarter and savvier [these days],” Camuto said. “It’s amazing that every woman, no matter where I go, knows exactly what’s going on.” And his sales space is about to get even bigger. The brand has plans to open 50 to 60 stores internationally next year in such countries as India, China, England, Mexico and Guatemala.
Ping-Pong pro Stuart Weitzman is also quite the tennis fan. Just this week, the designer was in attendance for Andy Roddick’s final match before his retirement. “I saw Pete Sampras win his last tournament and it would have been nice to see Roddick do that, but the screen kept putting [Roddick’s wife] Brooklyn Decker up there instead of him,” joked Weitzman, at his Madison Avenue store for Fashion’s Night Out. Model Petra Nemcova was a guest for the evening. Nemcova, who will appear in a social media video for Weitzman in October, donned the designer’s Close Call ankle boot. “Stuart brings an element of coolness and sex appeal and comfort [to his designs],” she said.
Jean-Michel Cazabat is off the market — the dating market, that is. The women’s footwear designer is getting married on Saturday at Indochine in New York. His fiancée, Tess Wanjugu, accompanied him to the Fashion’s Night Out fete at his Soho store. Cazabat admitted that juggling Fashion Week events with his upcoming nuptials, as well as receiving out-of-town guests, has turned him into something of a groom-zilla. “It is stressful,” he told Spy. And he added that the honeymoon will have to wait, given this month’s busy work schedules for him and Wanjugu (a former model and Miss Kenya). But one thing that has been stress-free is choosing shoes for the big day. The bride, of course, will be wearing footwear designed by her groom: Cazabat’s Omayra style strappy sandal.
“The store may be closed, but Betsey Johnson is always open!” said the designer, standing outside her shuttered Soho boutique on Fashion’s Night Out. Crowds stopped traffic as Johnson spoke to her fans: “Come see my [runway] show on Tuesday. And now I have to go back to work!” She appeared with her daughter, Lulu, and the pair were busy filming a reality show for the Style Network called “Betsey & Lulu.” The show debuts in February.
The scene inside Macy’s new mega women’s shoe department during Fashion’s Night Out was much more like a movie premiere than a shopping event. Clearly enthused about the new footwear space, Macy’s chief Terry Lundgren talked about the massive project for “E! Live on the Red Carpet,” before posing for dozens of other photographers, including FN’s own. The CEO gamely climbed atop a coffee table for the perfect shot with the entire department behind him. Meanwhile, hundreds of consumers lined up to meet Michael Kors, who hosted a fashion trivia contest on the floor. While some were gunning for autographs, others were more realistic. “We’ll just take a glimpse, whatever we can get,” one said.
It was a family affair for the Azrias at Lord & Taylor. Spy caught up with Lubov Azria, wife of Max Azria and chief creative officer of the BCBG Max Azria Group, after the BCBG runway show earlier Thursday. Currently, Azria is working on the final touches for the Hervé Léger show on Saturday. “We’re still doing casting believe it or not. Still doing fittings, music — all the fun things,” she said. Joyce Azria, creative director of BCBG Generation and daughter of Max Azria, was also there to greet customers. Azria hinted that consumers should expect a lot more casual trends such as sneakers and booties from the brand for the upcoming season.
Designer Reed Krakoff, who was fresh off his second award this year for Accessory Designer of the Year (he won the CFDA in June and the Style Award this week), told FN that footwear was his eponymous label’s second best sales category after ready-to-wear. “From a design standpoint I always think of shoes as being more like sculpture, and it’s fun because every season it changes,” he said. And his survival tips for Fashion Week? “Oh, I love doing shows, so I don’t think of it that way. I always remember what I’m doing and how lucky I am to be in this business.”
Nigel Barker is back. The former “America’s Next Top Model” judge will return, but this time as the host for a similar show, “Face.” Barker, who appeared at Nine West in Midtown to promote the brand’s Runway Relief Program, which sells exclusive product and donates 100 percent of the proceeds to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, will also work with Naomi Campbell, Coco Rocha and Karolina Kurkova, who will act as the show’s mentors to up-and-coming models. “They will teach these models the way of the supermodel,” said Barker, adding that the premiere episode will air next year on Oxygen. But for now, Barker will make the rounds at New York Fashion Week, stopping at such shows as Cynthia Rowley and Betsey Johnson. As for the perfect pair for front row seats, the photographer said, “You’ll always get the flash of the red sole that people like to see. People are revealing their soles at Fashion Week. It’s quite dramatic.”
The characteristically upbeat Jerome Rousseau was uncharacteristically hostile about one aspect of the footwear industry when Spy caught up with the designer at Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. His constant travels around the globe are taking their toll, he said. “The biggest problem in my life is jet lag. It’s the one thing I can use the ‘H’ word for — I hate it,” he said. “I am the person who suffers the most from jet lag that I’ve ever met. Of all the people I know, I travel the most. I’m also the last to adjust to it. I’ve tried every trick and none of them work for me.” But as his fashion star rises, the designer is finding his schedule more demanding than ever. Next week, he’s off to New York for 10 days to show off the spring collection. And with the introduction of handbags for spring ’13, more air miles are probably in Rousseau’s future. “I’m a very positive person and I love everything else about this industry,” he said. “It’s just this one thing!”
Shane and Shawn Ward were getting reacquainted with Los Angeles last night when they came to town for the West Coast launch of ROOS-Shane&Shawn at Sportie L.A. But the duo said that even as they were discovering new favorite spots, they were still in a New York state of mind. “We used to come to L.A. a lot,” said Shawn. “We love to go to Soho House out here, for sure. There are people there who used to work at Soho House in New York. It’s nice to see familiar faces and they know who you are and if feels like a little bit of home.” Andy Rubin, CEO of Pentland Brands PLC, which owns the Kangaroos label, was also in town to enjoy the weather before heading back to London. “My family and I came out for vacation and managed to stay an extra day so we could be here,” he said. “When you live in the U.K., you don’t get to see much sun, so we’re taking it in.”
Fashion’s Night Out was a first for Matt Bernson. The designer hosted an event in his brand’s Tribeca store, which opened this spring. “It was amazing to have our own space to do something,” Bernson told Spy, adding that he was relieved to see a line out the door before the party started. “There’s 1,000 parties in one night and to have a line down the block was unbelievable. I’m glad people wanted to come.” Actress and model Byrdie Bell helped matters when she stopped by the store for some light shopping and cocktails. She even took home the Jagger bootie in black.
At Bergdorf Goodman, Aerin Lauder was on hand to greet fans of her Aerin line of cosmetics, launched just in time to keep her looking fresh through a week of fashion shows. Her favorites include Michael Kors and Proenza Schouler. Lauder, who is launching her footwear collection for spring ’13, told FN she has been spending a lot of time in Nike-land, indulging her two sons’ — aged 13 and 11 — passion for Nike Lunar Ones and NikeID sneaks. “Oh, and neon socks,” Lauder said. “They definitely have their own style and opinion now.”