Fashion’s Night Out – where all the shops in New York stay open late, and are filled with celebrities – is Anna Wintour’s gift to the world. However, just as if it were a mauve feathered headdress Anna sent you in the mail, you have to approach it properly or it will seem like so much madness. That’s why I like to make a list of rules for myself so I can get the most out of the super-glamorous evening.
Rule #1: Given the abundance of free food – especially cupcakes – available on Fashion’s Night Out, today is a day you should pay for no food. You should eat only what you can forage, as if you were in the jungle.
Rule #2: You should find Karl Lagerfeld, become his friend. Talk to him about how you understand why he has 100 iPods.
Those were all the rules I had. They were enough. I was ready.
I was like a hunter. A hunter in sequins. There was no room for fashion weakness.
And I found a cupcake, I found one early, right next to some sort of leopard printed van filled with bedazzled purses. And yes, it was coconut and peanut butter, and yes, that is a disgusting combination, but whatever, the Black Eyed Peas were playing and yes, tonight was going to be a good night!
Even though the Black Eyed Peas were starting to merge with some other music coming out of some other shop, and the only celebrity I could see was Derek Blasberg, and I wanted to ask him how he got companies to bribe him, but there was some sort of crowd taking pictures with him, so I just started wandering through stores trying to grab the vodka cocktails they laid out. Except a lot of them weren’t vodka, a lot were trying to be clever, like the absinthe champagne one at Helmut Lang. I hate absinthe, but I drank it anyway, because it was called “Death in Venice” and I love Thomas Mann and couldn’t figure out how he related to the rest of the evening, and because I make bad decisions.
But where was the food? There was some food outside Tory Burch. There were burgers from Shake Shack. And gee, they looked delicious, but the line was way, way down the street, and our office is right across from Shake Shack, so I can have a burger from there any old time.
So I ended up having another ambiguous coconut peanut butter cupcake, and I had to wait in line for it for half an hour, and Karl Lagerfeld was not my waiting buddy, so that was disappointing. But I didn’t want that kind of cupcake. I wanted a better cupcake. So I went uptown on the subway, which was filled – filled – with girls all teetering wildly on their high heels like horses just learning to walk. And there was giddy hilarity, which was great, except the train was too full, it was one of those days where it becomes a sexual harassment train, because you realize that you are literally grinding up against a stranger’s crotch and there is nothing you can do, and you wonder whether to look back at them mournfully as if to say “sorry” or if that would only make it weirder. It was like that.
I think a good third rule of Fashion’s Night Out is “just don’t walk down 5th avenue.” There were celebrities everywhere, but they look wild eyed and frightened, because people kept running up to them in stores and screaming and Jesus, I’ve never been gladder not to be a celebrity in my life. Sarah Jessica Parker apparently ran out after 4 minutes because it was too overwhelming. I don’t normally like Sarah Jessica Parker, and I feel like if Dakota Fanning could stand there in Prada with people shrieking at her and trying to touch her all night (she looked stone-cold terrified), SJP could have toughed it out. But at the same time, I understand where SJP was coming from, I really do.
And on the streets, people were starting to regurgitate. It was amazing, I was just walking along, ducking into stores, looking for cupcakes, not finding any, and them – slam! bam! – the unmistakable strench of vomit. Every time you passed anything that even remotely resembled an alley. There was some girl in Lycra half hunched over a trash can. It was only 8:30.
And then we were all moving down 5th avenue en masse, as though we were all desperately trying to catch the last helicopter out of Saigon, but what were they looking for, these strangers pushing against me? What did they want? What glimmer of hope made them part of this fashion parade? I only wanted a cupcake and friendship.
And then I found myself in Duane Reade, empty except for one girl dressed in gold lame, clutching a Guess Bag and cup of pink-something bleating “where is the Vitamin Water? Someone get me some Vitamin Water!” So I tried to, but I guess it was the wrong kind, it wasn’t the zero calorie kind, and then she was crying, and God, I knew just how she felt. I passed her a frozen Snickers bar. It was the best I could do.
And then, as I stared up at the night sky in this filthy vodka-vomit stained city I said to myself “who are you? Seriously? Are you a fucking vagrant? You want a cupcake, go buy yourself a goddamn cupcake. They cost $2.” So I did. I went to Magnolia Cupcake, and I bought a S’mores one and some sort of meringue frosted one that I will call “The Gnome Hat.” And they cost $3.75 each, which is not $2, but I could buy both because I’m a millionaire! Or had $10 in my pocket. Po-tah-to, po-ta-tho.
But there were too many people at Magnolia, because everybody had the same idea, or else were lured by the Ken Doll truck parked outside. So I carried my cupcakes a few blocks down to the OTB parlor, which is a clean, well-lighted place. It is the kind of place a lady can eat a cupcake or two in peace, save occasional inquiries about the cost of a blowjob.
And so I did. I scarfed those cupcakes down. And they were good. Actually, they didn’t feel that good, but by that point I was just saying “fuck you, Anna Wintour, I can get my own cupcake, thanks” and they mixed badly with the absinthe champagne thing, and besides, all I’d eaten that day were cupcakes, and then, there I was outside the OTB, retching. I threw up some sprinkles and semi-digested frosting.
It was the perfect end to a perfect evening!
But actually, I do sort of like it. I do. If I were in my hometown, I would have either gone home after work and watched TV or… nothing in my hometown is open after 9:00. I would have gone home and watched TV, and likely all my friends would have as well. I like the way New York, especially on evenings like this, lends itself to an infinite set of possibilities. Because that night, somewhere, someone in the city did have a Deus-ex-Karl-Lagerfeld. Okay, maybe it was only Blake Lively, but it was someone. And someone else puked outside the OTB parlor. And that someone was me.