Fashion legend Anna Wintour treks out to Qns. Center Mall

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What’s a surefire sign the retail industry needs a boost?

When the undisputed arbiter of style herself, Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, deigned to mix with the masses at Macy’s at the Queens Center shopping center to kick off festivities Sept. 10 for Fashion’s Night Out, a global initiative to promote retail and restore consumer confidence.

In Queens, Astoria retailers KrisTEES and Candy Plum joined Fresh Meadows children’s boutique Malawi and several Macy’s locations to represent the borough in the international style stratosphere.

The event, which coincided with the first night of New York Fashion Week, was organized in the United States by American Vogue, NYC & Company, the City of New York and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

More than 700 retailers in all five boroughs were confirmed for New York’s Fashion’s Night Out, during which retailers remained open and staged special events from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., according to the event Web site. Retailers worldwide, in countries ranging from Russia and Brazil to France and China, participated in the global fashion extravaganza.

At KrisTEES, at 24-01 23rd Ave., roughly 85 guests, who included a mixture of both returning and new customers, stopped by to shop, mingle and feast on mini cupcakes and sip wine throughout the evening. Eight Astoria designers were on hand to discuss their products and to gauge feedback from customers.

Kristie Foster, owner of KrisTEES, was happy to represent her beloved borough, often overlooked when it comes to matters of style and fashion, by taking part in Fashion’s Night Out.

“For stores that participated in this special shopping night, it really helped kick-start the season for existing boutiques that have been struggling in a rather soft retail environment,” she said.

The event got consumers excited about fashion again, Foster said.

“There has been so much negative press out there regarding the economy when things really aren’t that bad that people are forgetting to have a little fun, which starts with looking great and feeling fabulous,” she said.

Fashion fanatics who flocked to KrisTEES certainly seemed to be having fun, as they browsed clothing, accessories and photography created by local artisans. Henna artist Sunita Iqbal was on hand to treat customers to her unique henna creations.

Kim Amoroso, an Astoria resident and health-care worker, purchased a handwoven lambskin tote for $498 made by Lower East Side husband-and- wife design team The Divine Tribe.

Amoroso, who said she does not shop as much as she used to, is more apt to purchase investment pieces and has cut back on impulse buys.

“I hope that people are still able to enjoy small pleasures in life,” she said. “Going into a store, having a drink, making a purchase.”

Astoria resident Jessica Troiano, who works in higher education administration, came to Fashion’s Night Out to support KrisTEES, which she deemed one of only several fashion-forward shops in the neighborhood that adds something to the community that was previously lacking.

“The last thing that I want to do is shop,” she said. “This event got me out here tonight.”

Troiano said she is also looking for less disposable fashion, with an eye toward purchasing items that will last several years.

“The people who do have jobs need to spend and do their part to get the economy moving again,” she said. “Like it or not, our economy is based on consumer spending.”

Astoria jewelry designer Tanya Pantich was on hand to sell her hand-cut, fused glass rings, which retail for $42 each. She said business has been slow, but in September she has noticed a change.

“It’s tough for everybody — that’s understand­able,” she said. “I think that it’s a great initiative to have events like this. I wish there were more of them.”

Foster said in talking with other local business owners, the recession has affected them all in some way or another.

“The good news is that people are still spending, but just reprioritizing what they spend on and how much,” she said. “For me, this event really helped to get fall started with a bang, and I am so happy the City of New York was part of this special night. I hope they do it again because it helped to put the excitement back into fashion for me and my clients.”

Updated 7:08 pm, September 14, 2011
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