Thousands of New Yorkers celebrate 'Fashion's Night Out'

Champagne flowed all night into the early morning hours Saturday in New York, where thousands of people took over shops and department stores to celebrate "Fashion's Night Out" with celebrities.

"It's early, but I think out of the gate it seems to have become so much bigger," American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour said of the event timed to coincide with New York Fashion Week.

The queen of glossy magazines first launched the evening festivities last year in a bid to boost fashion sales that have suffered in these hard economic times.

With support from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the initiative has morphed into a shopping fiesta.

All across the Big Apple, long queues formed starting Friday afternoon outside department stores like Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Macy's, while jewelers and luxury boutiques offered champagne and canapes for handpicked guests and customers.

Many retailers seized on the occasion to invite musicians, DJs and other performance artists.

Dutch designers Viktor Horstling and Rolf Snoeren ("Viktor & Rolf") clinked glasses in suits and ties in a big bed at Saks and a French-style flea market was installed at the Ace Hotel.

Others, like Italian jeweler Pomellato, proposed a lottery to win a ring from its latest collection.

In some corners, the festivities nearly grew into riots, namely at Macy's where singer Jennifer Lopez was introducing her latest perfume scent.

The first 300 people who paid a fee of 135 dollars had the privilege of getting photographed with the star, while the rest were ruthlessly pushed back by her bodyguards.

Hundreds more fans waited elsewhere for a chance sighting of model Naomi Campbell, "Sex and the City" actress Sarah Jessica Parker or tennis champion Serena Williams.

No Manhattan neighborhood was spared the crushing waves of avid shoppers, as temperatures rose from the masses.

From the westside Meatpacking District, home to Stella McCartney and Diane von Furtstenberg's boutiques, to touristic SoHo, parties were prolonged late into the night, with many only leaving the stores slightly tipsy and arms full of packages.

Fashion Week, however, continues before and after Fashion's Night Out.

True to its taste for refined sophistication, Beirut-based designer George Chakra presented his fourth ready-to-wear collection, full of prowess with subtly interlaced satin straps showcasing the best the body has to offer.

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