For several years now I’ve watched other cities throw fiscal caution to the wind and celebrate local retailers at Fashion’s Night Out events around the country. Pattern, too, has opined several times before about the lack of participation in Indy. Thus, as everything began to fall together in the weeks leading up to Indy’s first official FNO, I found myself waffling between excitement and trepidation.
Granted, Pattern has proved time and time again that fashion has a special place in our Midwestern city. The success of Pattern Paper speaks to the talents and enthusiasm of local designers, stylists, photographers, retailers, writers, and general fashion lovers; the community that has developed here in a relatively short amount of time reflects a desire for change, for progress, for Indianapolis to create our own niche in the national fashion and arts community. Still too often, though, I hear complaints about our style scene and our “lack” of retail options. I’ve discovered that many people have some really great ideas, but too few are willing to act because “this is Indiana.”
Well, doubters be damned. On Thursday, September 6, FNO debuted citywide to overwhelmingly positive reviews.
My night began as it usually does – sitting in traffic. All week, I had been watching the buzz build on my Twitter feed, but the explosion of #FNOindy chatter that coincided with the 5PM start of the VIP Reception at the Artsgarden overwhelmed my Inbox. Twitter literally stopped sending me emails. Then and there, I knew I was in for a truly special night.
The Artsgarden proved to be a visually stunning event space. As the music thumped and the crowd mingled while sipping on wine courtesy of Mass Ave Wine Shoppe, I was fortunate enough to meet several local bloggers participating in Jeremiah William’s Social Media Lounge. I also ran into some familiar faces, like Mallory Talty of Stereoscope Photography, and her fiancé, Latham Hawkins, one of the stylists who breathed new life into the former Nordstrom windows. Look for their menswear editorial in the fall issue of Pattern Paper.
After the opening remarks by Mark Fisher, Interim Director of DevelopIndy, a limo courtesy of A Class Act Limousine picked up myself and several bloggers and media personalities to chauffeur us to several of the FNOindy hotspots. The boys of Raant, NightlightsTV, Reka (Radio Now 100.9), Victoria Beaty (founder, Project Prom Indy), Esther Boston (Esther Boston Photography), Derrik Braziel (co-founder, Dreamapolis), Dedee (Forefront Indy), and I enjoyed swag from Indiana Vodka, Godiva, and Mass Ave Wine Shoppe as we were ushered to where FNOindy first began: Saks Fifth Avenue.
We were greeted on arrival with free food and drinks before being directed to the second floor, where a fashion show was underway. As gorgeous models in on-trend fall looks strutted the runway to the tunes of DJ Slater Hogan, I sipped my Chardonnay and marveled at the sizeable and diverse crowd that had gathered. Several women had brought their young children out for a night on town, while a few teenagers snapped (Instagram-bound, no doubt) pics of the lone male model. Young professionals mingled with several women who proved that dressing well is simply ageless. And yes, while the crowd was predominantly women, some men could be found enjoying the show, as well.
“It’s like I’m dreaming,” said Braziel. “I can’t believe this is Indianapolis.” And I had to agree. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the free booze, but the energy inside Saks was unlike any other fashion event I’ve attended in this city.
After the show, several of the onlookers took turns pouting for the cameras, although many revelers made the journey across the Fashion Mall to the Nordstrom court, where an impressive array of retailers had erected promotional booths around a central stage. Giveaways and promotional materials abounded, and it was nice to see so many patrons interacting with the different brands represented there.
Too quickly, it seemed, we found ourselves back in the limo for the trip across the city to the Indianapolis International Airport, where Aesthetic Design House had orchestrated a special FNO pop-up shop for its brands.
Despite the later hour, the airport had a steady flow of foot traffic. Radio Now 100.9 erected a promotional booth near the racks of designer clothing from local brands Sweet Revenge Lingerie, House of 5th, and Studio NTK. I loved the set-up of the show – the designers mixed with the crowd, explaining their inspirations and the resulting product, and it was great being able to touch the clothes and accessories I had seen at fashion shows and in ad campaigns.
The final FNO stop was at BLU, where we arrived to find the afterparty small, but celebratory. Drinks flowed easily as many of the organizers and designers who presented that night toasted to FNOindy’s success. The sole downside? Being chatted up by a businessman in Keen sandals and socks, the only real fashion crime I spotted all night long.
Overall, I would emphatically proclaim FNOindy a success. Naturally, there’s always room for improvement, and if you have feedback or ideas regarding next year’s event, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us: email@example.com. Clearly, fashion has a place here, and events like FNO can only help grow our community. “This is Indiana;” stay tuned.
Images courtesy of Esther Boston