Mike Albo Goes Shopping

Oscar Winner Fixation Edition

More Magazine Fallout:

Fashion Rocks
Falls Off The Charts

Today In Much Needed Extravagance:

Saks & Escada Pull Out The Stops
With A Duffy Concert

These are grim days for retailers who are looking at the upcoming Holiday season with the lowest of expectations, so it's encouraging to see a Major Store who understands the need for excitement to keep customers interested. With that in mind, Saks Fifth Avenue threw an exclusive cocktail bash last night to celebrate a newly expanded Escada boutique on the second floor. Someone has some faith in the future, because Saks has set aside a sizable chunk of prime real estate to display the German luxury label's offerings. Once snickered at as "Garanimals for rich grown ups", Escada has come a long way from its glitzy '80s heyday, and the line has taken on a younger and much more sophisticated image in recent years thanks to creative director Damiano Biella who was last night's guest of honor.
Saks used miles of muslin pipe and drape to create a sprawling tented lounge on the selling floor that was presided over by none other than celebrated nightlife diva Amy Sacco and DJ Donna D'Cruz who won our hearts by simply sporting headphones paved in glittery crystals. Cleared of merchandise, the second floor at Saks makes a pretty good nightclub. This was already well above par for your average department store launch party, but the centerpiece of the evening was a mini-concert by Duffy, whose monster hit, "Mercy" must be seared into everyone's brain by now. Having appeared on "Saturday Night Live" a couple of weeks ago, Duffy is quite a bit more accomplished and famous than we would expect from anyone performing at such an event, which made it all the more exciting. Apparently the pixieish Welsh singer has had a happy relationship with Escada since she started performing (which she admitted on stage was only about a year ago). We did the rounds of the party and dutifully photographed the models showing off the latest in Escada after which we planted ourselves in front of the stage to get a good view and waited for the coconut shrimp trays to come around. At about 9:30, Duffy casually took the stage with a stripped down combo to perform a selection from her album, Rockferry. Often compared to Amy Winehouse, Duffy has the invaluable added ability to show up relatively sober and perform her songs in their entirety, with full enunciation and coherence.  She's even cuter in person than on TV and we got to be thisclose as she performed her updated version of classic, British blue-eyed soul like a pint-sized Dusty Springfield for the new century. You would have to have been made of stone not to be charmed by her, and we were already fans, so we were in hogs' heaven for about 25 minutes. Sadly, photos were strictly forbidden during the performance, and our proximity to burly security guards precluded even a subtle attempt at pirating a picture.
If there was any expense pared away, it might have been the gift bags, which consisted of a Duffy CD and and a discount card for $100 off an Escada purchase over $500 through the weekend.Of course we already had the CD, but it's nice to have an official hard copy instead of the version that magically made its way to our hard drive from the vast and mysterious interwebs.
So thanks to Saks for one of the better launch parties we have experienced and the chance to see a rising star up close, which more than made up for the lack of swag.

After the jump, more pictures.



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