Special to South Florida Times

Billed as the “Fashion Event of the Year,” the industry’s most notable brands came together from Berlin to Bal Harbour and all places in between to create a one night only affair in celebration of Fashion Night Out.

For the second annual event, department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue and stylish global brands such as Chanel, Diane Von Furstenberg, Salavatore Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs and Elie Taheri pulled out all the stops to draw fashionistas into their stores for a shopping experience filled with haute fashions, food, cocktails and give-ways and exclusive discounts for the fabulous affair.

“I am a fashion major and this I just couldn’t miss this annual event held across the country,” said Iasia Jenkins, a student at Johnson & Wales University. “I just had to come out and see what it was all about.”

Some of the largest events were hosted by shopping destinations such as The Bal Harbour Shops and the Village of Merrick Park, whose stores joined forces to produce activities that drew celebrities such as chef and author, Michelle Bernstein.

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Tracey Mourning, wife of NBA great Alonzo Mourning, was on hand to show off her luxurious new bath and body collection made of essential oils, called Goddess, Mother, SoulMate, Friend. 

Bal Harbour’s participating stores also partnered with local charities such as Common Threads which will receive a percentage of the evening’s proceeds.

Other  retailers and shopping locations participating in Fashion Night Out included the Miami Design District, Aventura Mall and the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens.

While some attendees sought out fashions shows and exclusive events, others couldn’t resist the lure of the one night only discounts being offered by some of their favorite designers.

“I knew that they were going to be offering some specialty items in celebration of tonight and exclusive deals that I couldn’t pass up. They’ve pulled out all the stops,” said Sascha Ramsey Etienne. For retailers across the country, Fashion Night Out was a welcome reprieve from the onslaught of economic indicators showing that shoppers remain skittish about the economy and are staying away from stores.

Conceived by Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine and the woman many call the final word in fashion, Fashion Night Out was launched in 2009 to promote retail. The event was also intended to restore consumer confidence and get customers excited again at a time when many retailers were being forced to close their doors amidst a deepening global recession.

“This was awesome,” said Jenkins. “I can’t wait to celebrate again next year.”