New York, I Love You

11/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's nearly over, but it's still worth talking about -- the exquisite circus that is Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. As co-founder of online luxury fashion retailer Gilt Groupe, I'm always ecstatic about Fashion Week. Sure, it's my industry, but it's more than that. This is my hometown. I'm a native New Yorker. I love nothing more than seeing Manhattan dressed up and ready to party.

The week kicked off with Fashion's Night Out, an initiative of Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the city of New York to raise funds for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and to kick-start the economy. That night more than 800 stores across the five boroughs stayed open till 11 p.m.

My first stop on Fashion's Night Out was to meet my Gilt Groupe co-founder Alexis Maybank at Barneys. We caught up with our jewelry designer friend (and occasional movie star) Waris Ahluwahlia from the House of Waris. We also saw one of the Mulleavy sisters from the fashion label Rodarte. And later in the week we sponsored the outstanding Rodarte show. It had dry ice on the runway and couture from the apocalypse.

But back to Fashion's Night Out -- there was such a distinct buzz in the air. New York felt alive. Shoppers spilled from the stores onto the street and it was impossible to catch a cab. Uptown, the Chanel boutique was unbelievably crowded. At Calvin Klein, creative director Francisco Costa charmed guests. Tamara Mellon held court at her stiletto emporium Jimmy Choo.

Over at Dior, South African beauty Charlize Theron signed autographs. At YSL, customers were treated to sample's of their newest fragrance, Parisienne. And at Ungaro, there was a sense of excitement as word spread that Lindsay Lohan had been hired as the brand's artistic advisor. At Tod's, CEO Diego della Valle had a cobbler on the shop floor hammering holes into their signature driving shoes. It was a terrific spectacle.

That same night, Mayor Bloomberg addressed a shopping mall in Queens. He reminded us that fashion is a $10 billion industry that employs 175,000 New Yorkers. I never knew that my hometown had more apparel-related businesses than Paris. But we do. As a fashion entrepreneur and someone who grew up with Madison Avenue on my doorstep, I'm very proud. I love New York, more than ever.