You know how Hieronymus Bosch portrayed hell? Okay, picture that, add the Olsen Twins and three dudes in a box dressed as Ken dolls, and you have a good idea of last night's Fashion's Night Out karaoke at Barneys.
Let me first say that I was totally psyched for this. When I heard that FNO was going to involve karaoke, and was going to be judged by none other than Simon Doonan, Tavi, Mary Kate and Ashley and Liya Kedebe, I started practicing my "Wuthering Heights" karaoke in front of the mirror. I didn't care so much about the prizes, from the Row or Proenza Schouler, but I love karaoke and liked the idea of communing with my fellow fashionistas over a little Kate Bush.
I'd somehow forgotton that Fashion's Night Out combines all the worst things in the world, taunts you with the promise of free booze, and is instead a fangs-bared feeding frenzy of long lines, short lists and limited quantities. It makes you feel bad in about ten different ways: mad at yourself for buying into the hype, at everyone else for buying into the hype, at officious bouncers for making you feel bad, at society, at false inclusivity and real exclusivity, and several others relating to uncomfortable shoes and bad music, all of which again come back to you, who could have been sitting at home watching old White Collar episodes. I'd recruited my boyfriend for the evening and donned a felt hat. We pre-gamed at Banana Republic, where he downed a tray of proseccos and, in addition to discounts, they proferred chocolates on sticks. Next we drank Asahi and ginger ale at the Gap; accidentally heard Train performing on 5th Avenue; ate a mini croque monsieur at Henri Bendel, danced a little at Swarovski, saw a dog show at Bergdorf's, skipped their karaoke competition and, oh yeah, saw this:
Spirits were running high: the streets swarmed with fashionistas, aspiring fashionistas, and large parties of teens in from Long Island and New Jersey. ("I MET MICHAEL KORS!" screamed one, elated.) Everyone was in at least 4" heels, although the skill-level varied greatly. One girl may or may not have been wearing a party hat. There was a party atmosphere, as if a team had won, except we were just celebrating shopping and ourselves. After stopping for a quick crepe at La Bonne Soupe, hied our way over to Barneys. I'd known it would be a shit show, but jeez louise. The karaoke, we were told, was on Floor 5. But when we got there (having passed the fashion dollmaker, the celebrity appearances and the ping-pong competition) not only were half the escalators down, but Floor 5 was full and they wouldn't let anyone in. I'm a bad wheedler, but Kate Bush was on the line. I tried 5 security guards and three alternate routes that I thought were crafty but obviously weren't since guards were stationed near all of them. I felt somewhat better, also worse, when i saw one of my favorite fashion personalities being subjected to the same indignity. I collapsed in despair somewhere outside the men's room. Finally, after about 45 minutes of this, we managed to get in, I am not proud to tell you, by sprinting through an employees-only passage while the manager's back was turned. Then we were in the midst of it, and if I believed in hell, this glimpse of it would be enough to out me on the straight and narrow.
It was mobbed. And oddly full of children. Everyone was near-hysterical and the press of bodies was overwhelming and periodically, guards would shout at people and push us back like we were May Day protestors or something. Seeing anything was out of the question, let alone getting close to the mic. I hated humanity.
At some point, I guess the Olsens materialized, because everyone flipped out and started screaming and waving phones. Then the karaoke began, although this only added to the chaos. It soon developed that, Idol-style, people would only get a chance to sing a couple of minutes — which was, I thought, particularly unfair to the woman singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." (In the case of "Like A Prayer," this was actually a blessing in disguise, as those of us who've sung it, and lost the audience arounf minute 4, know all too well.) In my opinion, "Crazy" (Patsy Cline, not Gnarls Barkley) deserved the swag, but it was so chaotic, and the performances so brief, that it was hard to say. I decided I would not have won, but was still upset. So I went to the hat department and performed "Wuthering Heights." No one was that into it.
Then after leaving, bruised and exhausted, and dragging ourselves to the E, we heard this woman singing "God Bless the Child" on the platform.
Definitely the evening's hilight.