Updated: October 7, 2012 7:55AM
What began as Anna Wintour’s push to help retailers during the 2009 recession, Fashion Night Out has spread the fashion fete to 18 countries, with 4,500 events nationwide. Those on the Chicago shopping trail can find fashion shows, cocktails, free makeovers, shopping discounts and more cocktails at the annual testament to all things sartorial taking place from 6 to p.m. Thursday along the Mag Mile, the Gold Coast and State Street.
Whether it’s sipping Champagne while checking out the newest fall handbags at Furla on Oak Street or rubbing elbows with actress Ali Larter at the Night Out event at the 900 North Michigan Shops, the shopping party offers dedicated retail therapy for every budget.
The best part of FNO is that all events are free and open to the public, although some require an RSVP.
Before stepping out for all the festivities, the city’s only dedicated blow-out salon, Blowtique, offers a free style from noon to 5 p.m. For FNO Cinderellas who can’t make that time slot, the salon remains open until 10 p.m. — but services return to the regular price. 1 E. Huron, (312) 280-2400.
Here’s a list of some of the hottest parties and events:
Nordstrom: Sure, New York City has more stores than Chicago, but they don’t have a Nordstrom! This year the store is holding an official launch party for the Chelsea Pump by Cole Haan. Guests can enjoy appetizers and beverages while checking out the Cole Haan show on the first floor. 55 E. Grand (312) 464-1515.
900 N. Michigan Shops: Along with Michigan Avenue Magazine, McGrath Lexus and Acura of Downtown Chicago, the shopping mecca is hosting its 2nd “900’s Night Out: Fame, Fashion & Flavor,” from 6 to 9 p.m. Hosted by actress Larter, the event offers makeup applications, manicures, massages and hair styling provided by Mario Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa and Bloomingdale’s. Guests can nosh food and beverages provided by Chicago’s top restaurants and Stella Artois at the Gastronomy by Groupon restaurant tasting while enjoying a fashion show featuring fall’s hottest looks styled by Chicago stylist Eric Himel. Select stores have FNO promotions, and a $1,000 spending spree guarantees a seat and gift bag at the VIP Lounge by the Wit. 900 N. Michigan, (312) 915-3916.
The Shops at North Bridge: This event features local stylists and fashion bloggers who showcase the hottest looks for fall. Guests can vote for their favorite looks and compete to win prizes. 520 N. Michigan, (312) 327-2300.
Macy’s State Street: Aviva Drescher of “The Real Housewives of New York City” and Nzimiro Oputa of “Fashion Star” add reality television star power to the night, while local fashion bloggers Nikia Jefferson (chitownfashionista.com), Hallie Wilson (coralsandcognacs.com) and Shae Peppler (vanilla fringe.com) host a runway presentation at 6 p.m. 111 N. State, (312) 781-1000.
Zara: Sip champagne gratis until 9 p.m. while perusing the fall collection. 700 N. Michigan, (312) 255-8123.
Saks Fifth Avenue: Hosted by Sun-Times’ Splash Editor Susanna Negovan, the event features complimentary makeovers and free polish changes. Guests can sip complimentary Stoli or Hendrick’s Gin drinks while hoping that one of three luxury raffle prizes has her name on it. 700 N. Michigan, (312) 944-6500.
Moncler: Moncler has created a special, limited editionT-shirt ($35) to support the FNO initiative, exclusive to the Chicago and New York City stores. Champagne and light hors d’oeuvres are also on the menu. 33 E. Oak, (312) 361-8573.
Sarca: The upscale boutique hosts a FAO (fashion afternoon out) from noon to 6 p.m., with lashes and makeup by local makeup artist and blogger Shannon O’Brien and styling tips from Rad and Refined’s Jacqueline Rezak. Come for the 20 percent discount and stay for the passed appetizers and champers. 710 N. State, (312) 255-0900.
Neiman Marcus: Luxury consignment entrepreneur and “House of Consignment” reality star Corri McFadden hosts a runway presentation at 7 p.m. The fashion forward can nibble bites from RPM, Paris Club, Rosebud and More Cupcakes between hitting the photo booth and nail bar. 737 N. Michigan, (312) 642-5900.
Agent Provocateur: Check out lingerie, swimwear, accessories and an FNO special collection. Cocktails, too. 47 E. Oak, (312) 335-0229.
Barney’s New York: From 5 to 8 p.m., the store donates 10 percent of all sales to the Human Rights Campaign. 15 E. Oak, (312) 587-1700.
Calypso St. Barth: Guests can check out the latest collections from this luxury lifestyle brand while enjoying Champagne and small bites. 50 E. Oak, (312) 649-9934.
The Denim Lounge: A tailor will be in the house offering free original jean bottom hems while guests enjoy cocktails until 8 p.m. 43 E. Oak, (312) 642-6403.
Furla: Enjoy 20 percent off the Furla collection while sipping Prosecco from 6 to 8 p.m. Guests are asked to RSVP at (312) 640-9501. 106 E. Oak.
Juicy Couture: Take 20 percent of all full-priced merchandise and sample the Viva La Juicy La Fleur fragrance from 6 to 8 p.m. 101 E. Oak, (312) 280-1637.
Kate Spade: Snacks and mini Coca-Colas will be offered to guests, and one lucky raffle winner will take home a handbag. 56 E. Oak, (312) 280-1129.
Piazza Sempione: The luxury women’s apparel and accessories shop launches a special limited-edition, jungle print, Audrey Hepburn-style pant during the event from 6 to 8 p.m. A gift with purchase is on offer as are small bites and drinks. 34 E. Oak, (312) 280-1129.
Vince: Take advantage of a special 20 percent discount off full-priced merchandise while entering for a chance to win a $500 gift card in a raffle. Champagne and cocktails will be served. 106 E. Oak, (312) 280-6890.
Ted Baker: Complimentary signature “Tedtini’s” will be served until 9 p.m. and guests will receive a free tote with a purchase of $250 or more. 1009 Rush, (312) 255-0290.
Natalie Hayes is a local free-lance writer.