Stylebook: A tough week for world of fashion


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Fashion has had better weeks.

First came the news that Fashion's Night Out, an annual celebration of style that spans the country, will take the year off. Then was the word that department store staple J.C. Penney had one of its worst quarters in history.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour started the Fashion's Night Out event in 2009 to promote all things fashion and boost shopping in response to the slumping economy. Since then, it has bloomed into an annual global style holiday bustling with celebrity appearances, pop-up shops and store activities and specials to stimulate spending on the first night of New York Fashion Week in September. Businesses in Pittsburgh also held some promotions and activities related to this special event.

Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Co. agreed on the break so that retailers and designers could focus their energy and resources on projects more in line with their individual long-term goals, rather than on planning activities for one night, according to Women's Wear Daily.

"Fashion's Night Out brought great energy, optimism and enthusiasm to the city's retailers, who make up a thriving part of our economy. We can always count on fashion industry leaders to use their creativity and savvy to benefit New York City -- whether they are helping us recover from a national recession, a natural disaster or whatever the next challenge may be," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told media.

Although fashionistas across the U.S. will be sitting out FNO, 19 other countries plan to carry the event into its fifth year. Thailand and Ukraine also will hold their inaugural FNO events.

We will miss you, Fashion's Night Out -- celebrities, crowds, sore feet and all.

On the J.C. Penney front, same-store sales plummeted nearly 32 percent in the fourth quarter, and a net loss of $552 million (or $2.51 per share) was reported for the quarter. Internet sales were $315 million, a 34.4 percent drop from the same time last year.

Many are attributing the tough times to radical changes new CEO Ron Johnson has introduced for the older-than-a-century store, including replacing by 2014 bar codes with RFID tags so customers can swipe their own merchandise, creating dozens of in-store boutiques connected by "streets" and ditching coupons and promotions for everyday-low price points.

But the former Apple employee remains optimistic.

"Sales and customer traffic were below our expectations in 2012, but as we execute our ambitious transformation plan, we are pleased with the great strides we made to improve J.C. Penney's cost structure, technology platforms and the overall customer experience," Mr. Johnson said in a release. "We have accomplished so much in the last 12 months. We believe the bold actions taken in 2012 will materially improve the company's long-term growth and profitability."

Pittsburgh fashion and beauty front ...

Kids consignment sale: Spruce up your home and wardrobe for spring with new or gently used furniture, toys, shoes, clothes and more for kids at the Fox Chapel Kids Consignment Sale at Adat Shalom, 368 Guys Run Road in Indiana Township. It starts Thursday with a volunteer pre-shop from 1 to 3 p.m., a consignor pre-shop from 3 to 5 p.m. and a $5 early bird public sale from 5 to 7 p.m. The public sale continues 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, when most items will be half off. Proceeds will benefit the Adat Shalom Preschool parent/teacher organization. Information: www.foxchapelkids.org.

Trunk show at Larrimor's: From haute couture to ready-to-wear, Peggy Jennings has ladies covered with apparel featuring European fabrics and attention to detail. Shop the collection Thursday and Friday at One PNC Plaza, Downtown. Information: www.larrimors.com or 412-471-5727.

"A Night of Beauty and Fashion" cancer benefit: Join the Above All Grand Salon & Spa in McCandless and the American Cancer Society for a night of food and fashion. Grazie restaurant will provide cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and a fashion show will spotlight looks from Stella & Dot and The Mackenzie Collection. Last year's event attracted about 400 guests and raised more than $6,000 for cancer awareness and research. It's 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the salon at 1025 Wexford Plaza Drive. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Information and tickets, call 724-935-5288.

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For more from PG fashion writer Sara Bauknecht, check out the Post-Gazette's new Stylebook blog at www.post-gazette.com/stylebook. To have a fashion or style event considered for Stylebook, send listing to sbauknecht@post-gazette.com. First Published March 5, 2013 5:00 AM


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