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Naomi and stars party on to boost fashion

Naomi Campbell danced on the pavement in leather hotpants. Alexander Wang led a dance party in a department store. And Vogue's Anna Wintour wore a (gasp) T-shirt.

It could only be Fashion's Night Out, the one-night celebration dreamed up by Wintour to lure shoppers into stores and revive the flagging fashion industry.

The event, started in New York last year, fanned out to 100 cities around the US yesterday, and 16 countries planned their own versions.

Wintour made a stop at Ralph Lauren, where she posed in a Fashion's Night Out T-shirt with David Lauren and Halle Berry. She said the event had grown in a year "by slightly epic proportions."

"We have to get out there and have people have fun," she said. "We have to spread fashion and do something good for the economy."

Madison Avenue was packed with taxis as shoppers crowded the sidewalks. Hundreds of people lined up outside Bergdorf Goodman, where huge crowds flocked to see Victoria Beckham and Mary J Blige, who came out to promote her eyewear line. Designers including Mark Badgley and James Mischka, Lela Rose and Thakoon Panichgul trotted out their dogs for a modeling contest, dressed in everything from top hats to wedding gowns to boas. Crowds grew so big it was hard to use the escalators or leave the store.

"You don't see this much excitement at stores," said Badgley as he surveyed the crowd while holding his beagle Ramel, dressed in a top hat and tuxedo. The design team's beagles were dressed as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.


Last year's extended hours and blitz of promotions did provide a sales lift for New York City merchants, said researcher Michael McNamara.

Luxury purveyors definitely need a boost. After enjoying rebounding sales earlier in the year, many upscale merchants have seen their US customers pull back again since the spring amid signs of a halting economic recovery.

"The psyche of the luxury shopper has changed," said consultant Robert Burke. "The idea of spending $2,000 to $3,000 on something that's identifiable to just one season isn't there."