09/11/2010 11:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fashion's Night Out Downtown: A Hot Mess (PHOTOS)

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Last night was Fashion's Night Out--the Vogue-created, City of New York-endorsed shopping bonanza presumably born to boost retail sales in the face of economic dire straits. But when you're getting razed down by hordes of neon-clad sneakerheads, camera-toting tourists, and all-out fashion freeloaders spilling--rather, spewing--from stores while clamoring for a glimpse of Kanye West, it's hard to imagine that Fashion's Night Out is actually the brainchild of Vogue editor Anna Wintour. One doubts Ms. Wintour would approve of vendors hawking tempura chicken on a stick or Taco Trucks, or even sartorial-minded girls trampled by riotous herds screaming after Pharrell Williams (the equivalent of fashion road kill). Although I cannot say what took place uptown (perhaps a more high-brow affair), the scene downtown could be summed up in three words--a hot mess.

At Intermix, hordes of fashionistas clad in the latest trends gathered to celebrate J Brand's new 5x5 collection, which features collaborations with U.K. designers Christopher Kane, Erdem, Richard Nicoll, Meadham Kirchhoff and Peter Pilotto. On the premises were co-hosts Byrdie Bell and Brit it-girl Daisy Lowe, who flew in just for the occasion. Miss Lowe, clad in skinny jeans and a season-appropriate crocheted sweater, played the part of London party girl by stripping down to a white tank top and twisting to the Beatles spun by New York native DJ NVM. Later that night Byrdie Bell tweeted, "OMG, @djnvm just bust out Blues Traveler!" Even Hollywood honcho Ratner managed to squeeze through the doors after closing time to schmooze with Intermix owners Khajak and Haro Keledjian.

Around the corner, the usually quiet cobblestoned Bond Street was taken over by a block party offering a trendy "street fair" of sushi cones from Bond Street restaurant, wine tastings from Il Buco, and a temporary tattoo parlor from hip ink man Scott Campbell. Spotted on the stoop of boutique Billy Reid was model/designer/bad-girl-of-the-moment Erin Wasson donning a long tank dress and floppy hat and smoking cigarettes. Inside, a Steve Nicks cover band crooned for a downtown crowd who ogled the assortment of lumberjack plaids while swigging whisky and beer. I even spotted a fashionable twenty-something leaving the party and slipping a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon into her clutch. "How chic," I commented. "It's for later," she winked.

Elsewhere among the turbulent sea of SoHo happenings included other Brit It-girl Alexa Chung debuting her collaboration with Madewell, Scarlett Johansson feting the new Moncler flagship, and Vogue cover girl Halle Berry toasting Rag & Bone designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright at their Mercer Street shop--but the spectacle of the night award goes to Prada, who had to lock their doors from crazed fans clamoring for a limited-edition lipstick print totes, leaving distraught fashionistas including Vogue's Andre Leon Tally and tennis pro Serena Williams imprisoned among Miuccia's laced ruffles and platform pumps.

The night finally ended at Don Hill's, Paul Sevigny's latest boite, where Russian heiress-cum-fashionista Dasha Zukhova hosted her coveted party for POP Magazine with DJ trio the Misshapes and Iggy Pop--word had it Britney Spears was holding a surprise performance. With lines of Beatrice Inn ex-pats snaking around the block, a gaggle of bearded bouncers manned the gates with uber-cool doormen's ammo du jour--iPads. Sadly my editorial date and I were (knowingly) not on the digital list, but can you blame us? It's Britney Spears! We were swiftly turned away but at least we can say, we survived Fashion Night Out--barely.

See many more Fashion's Night Out photos here.