Designer Mania at FNO

Manolo, Giuseppe Zanotti, Stuart and Tamara held court in their midtown boutiques.

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At Saks Fifth Avenue, Insider found president and chief merchandising officer Ron Frasch riding the escalators up to the eighth floor, the now-legendary home of 10022-SHOE. Having just posed with Donna Karan at the opening of her new Saks shop-in-shop, Frasch had 10 minutes allotted to visit the floor and meet with designers before he needed to be back on the main floor for another photo op. Frasch might have preferred the more direct route on the elevators, but even for the president, there was no room — too many shoppers were already jammed in.

“We haven’t had this at this kind of activity at this time of night in a long time,” Frasch said. “It’s good to see the elevators this full — as long as [the people in them] have bags!” [For the record, lots of the "Want It Saks" bags were on display.] And while Frasch wasn’t counting his chickens too early — saying only tomorrow’s numbers would show if the added traffic had meant added sales — it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Samples, complimentary champagne and personal appearances by dozens of designers and celebs kept Frasch riding the escalators every 10 to 20 minutes until 11 p.m. 

Meanwhile, designer Giuseppe Zanotti (in town, his reps told Insider, just for the day) kicked off his Fashion’s Night Out celebration on the Saks shoe floor, mingling with adoring shoppers and posing for pictures — and showing off his retro Nike running shoes. Sneakers at Saks? But the designer said mixing styles was all part of his new attitude. “Two or three years ago, I was very formal. But since the recession, I’ve wanted to feel more free,” he said. In fact, the designer told Insider he thinks everyone has benefited from a “more free” attitude about fashion since the economy went south — fewer uniforms, more creative dressing. “I wear these with denim and a jacket, like tonight, or with a tuxedo,” he said. Really, Giuseppe? A tuxedo? Well, the designer allowed, he did have one pair of more dressed-up John Lobbs, but only “for weddings.”

Saks wasn’t Zanotti’s only stop of the evening. Back at his own store, the designer-turned-DJ played upbeat sets while customers and guests mingled and enjoyed bellinis and Italian antipasti. Rihanna, Katy Perry, Rachel Bilson and Michelle Trachtenberg were among the designer’s devotees who stopped in.

Partying at Barneys and Bergdorf>>

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