Fashion's Night Out

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Thursday night, as you hopefully know, was the worldwide event known as Fashion's Night Out. For those of you that aren't aware, it's basically an evening when all the major fashion designers, stores, boutiques, etc. stay open until 11pm and have celebrity appearances, musical guests, free drinks, etc. There's more info on their website if you're interested. 

I was originally supposed to be working the event at DKNY--at least that's what I was told in an e-mail before arriving in NYC. A couple days before the actual event I was informed, however, that I would not be needed at the store and that they should have everything covered so I would be free to attend rather than staying just at the one store. I was not upset by this whatsoever because now I was free to do what I wanted. The only problem is that on such short notice I did not have time to go online and make a game plan for the event. 

I got off work at DKNY around 5:30 on Thursday and for some reason I went straight to Urban Zen. I'll explain what that is in a moment but for the time being just know that I had a gut feeling that Urban Zen was where I needed to be. I had never been before and didn't really know a lot about it but I Google Mapped it and next thing I knew I was there. 

Okay so here's the scoop on Urban Zen... Donna Karan has three main stores that she focuses on: Donna Karan Collection (with price points starting around $1000), DKNY (price point more similar to Michael Kors),  and Urban Zen. The company, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy) owns both Donna Karan and DKNY as a parent company. Urban Zen, however, is on it's own and completely privately owned, operated, etc. It's a clothing store that also sells items from Haiti and the store focuses on three main philanthropic points.

The first is preserving cultures. Their vision, as said on their website, is "to help cultures maintain their natural essence and identify in the face of globalization." They're really big into helping people in Haiti, stuff like that. 

The second initiative for them is empowering children. "Our mission is to care for our children's well being and give them the tools to face obstacles and opportunities with love, compassion, and strength. We collaborate and support existing children's organizations and create programs to enhance their spiritual, physical, and emotional growth." 

The final focus for Urban Zen is well-being. They help people with diseases, specifically cancer, focus on not only their disease, but also healing themselves with holistic healing, reiki, meditation, etc. 

As you can see this is a very cool organization that is really doing a lot of good in the world. The items there are not cheap by any means though. For example, one jacket costs $1795.00! Obviously nothing I can afford but the people who can are helping Haiti in a big way. 

Okay so now that we have a background on what Urban Zen is we can continue with my SUPER EXCITING STORY!!! So I go straight from DKNY to Urban Zen, walk in, and see only employees in the store and they're all still getting things ready for the evening; putting final touches on merchandise and that sort of thing. I stood in the front of the store for about thirty seconds when I saw a woman that appeared to be directing the event. She was a short woman who was very unique. I learned later that her name was Shelly and she was coordinating the event. She had shoulder length, very red, hair and was wearing probably about one hundred thousand dollars worth (literally) of haiti necklaces. I walked straight up to her and said "Hi, I'm Jory Rapps. I'm an intern over at DKNY and I just thought i'd see if you would like any help for the evening?" She could have said "leave me alone you pesky intern" but instead she, and everyone there, was so amazingly nice and were so grateful that I was there to help. 

She put me on gallery duty. It was my job to stand in the corner between the front store and the back gallery and try to bring people back to see the wonderful items they had brought to New York on their many trips to Haiti. All night I would walk up to people looking at the very expensive store items and say "have you seen our beautiful Haiti gallery? It's right here in the back." It was a beautiful event. There was champagne, vegan sushi that was to die for, and there was a good turnout without it being overwhelmingly busy. It felt more like a dinner party than a major store event which was what I think they wanted. 

As I stood in the back I watched as people shopped for the most expensive of items. One couple was looking at a set of plates and bowls from Haiti that i'm sure were well over a couple thousand dollars per piece. The husband said "I need four of these bowls, four of the plates, and one of the large salad bowls." The store employee explained that they were only samples but that they would receive the items in November and they would be the first ones called. These were people with major money. It was somewhat intimidating being one of the only non-millionaires in the room but I wasn't complaining. 

As the night went on I was able to talk with everyone involved at Urban Zen including the  head honcho who gave me his business card and said he would love for me to help at any future events. I also met the communications director for the store who happens to be my age and he was so nice. He even suggested we hang out some time so he may be my first friend in the city! Amazing evening, amazing people, and amazing networking. 

As the night progressed I learned that we were expecting a very special guest. None other than Donna Karan herself would be arriving to the store around 9pm for a visit. After I learned this I had to choke back tears of joy multiple times. All I kept thinking was that a week ago I was in Missouri doing nothing. Now i'm toasting champagne with millionaires and Donna Karan is going to be here soon! How does that happen?!

Quick side story: About thirty minutes before Donna showed up the store started to wreak of burnt hair for some reason. No one could figure it out and we all were running around looking for something on fire. Everyone was freaking out because Donna is really big on her store smelling like sage and incense so the burnt hair thing simply would not do. Finally someone realized that a couple of the candle holders were the culprit. Turns out they were made out of horn which is basically the same as hair. They blew out the candles, lit more sage, and the crisis was averted.

Donna Karan (in black)
When she arrived and walked in the door I just kept thinking "this is it. She's here!" She was beautiful. She was wearing a gorgeous black draping outfit with tall black stiletto heels. She walked in and immediately started adjusting clothing on mannequins until each piece looked exactly right. I watched as she walked up to a mannequin next to me, pulled the necklace off it, and said how much she loved it. She was literally standing a foot away from me and I agreed with her that the necklace was quite stunning. 

I watched from a distance as she walked up to people, kissed them on the cheek, made small talk, and I realized then that these people were all her friends. They all knew her. One girl, Hannah, asked if i was excited. When I told her I was about to pass out from the excitement she said "Yeah it's exciting your first time but by the twelfth time it's not that big of a deal anymore." I suppose she's probably right. 

As Donna was about to leave the store I decided to do something risky. She was adjusting a garment on another mannequin and I walked right up to her, held out my hand, and said "Ms. Karan my name's Jory Rapps and i'm an intern at  DKNY. It's a pleasure to meet you." This was insane. I don't know how I got the courage to do such a thing. But it turned out okay. She shook my hand, looked at me, and said "Very nice to meet you." Then her Blackberry started to ring and she answered it and walked out to her Escalade. It wasn't much, but it put me over the moon. Someone later apologized and said they thought it was rude of her to answer her phone. Honestly, she could have spit in my face and I would have been honored! I met Donna Karan a week after being in NYC!!!

I didn't think there would be anything else exciting to talk about other than that night but yesterday I ended up doing something else that was very cool. I was doing data entry ALL DAY yesterday until one of the girls in the office asked my supervisor if she could steal me for a quick minute. She needed me to go get some shoe samples that she had pulled for her and they were waiting up on the top floor. Off I went, not really thinking anything of it.

To my surprise, when the elevator door to the top floor opened, there was a photo shoot going on! A group of seven foot tall models sat to my left. The white backdrop and photographer were in front of me---It was all so glamorous.

I went up the staircase to my left and found myself in the most amazing shoe room i've ever seen. Every kind of DKNY shoe you can imagine were in this room. (And the ones you can't imagine because they haven't been released yet!) From the top floor you could see a great view of the city. The ceilings were insanely high and the room was beautiful. Basically made my day, for the second day in a row.

As far as things coming up soon to look forward to me blogging about....

  • I've got Brooklyn Fashion Weekend that i'll be helping with later this month
  • On Urban Zen's website they have listed a private concert for Mary J. Blige coming up so i'm again going to be offering my services for that
  • Two of my favorite musicians are playing concerts in the city soon, Deadmau5 & Oh Land
  • This week is fashion week! While there's nothing planned for me as of yet, that doesn't mean anything. So far the amazing things happening to me have all been last minute and totally unexpected. I guess that's the world of fashion.
  • I'm being interviewed on Sunday for Southeast Missouri State University's student newspaper, The Arrow
Again, please follow the blog if you like it, share it with your friends, and leave comments either on here or on my Facebook wall! I wish all of my friends back home health and happiness. Until next time....a few more pics from Urban Zen

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