Look beyond the fuzzy dice, Elvis clocks, rhinestone-studded truckers hats and famous fish ties and find … Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive, Via della Spiga and Avenue Montaigne—usually all under one roof. From glitzy to ritzy, the Las Vegas shopping experience is an eye-popping (sometimes eye-rolling), mind-boggling display of must-have excesses that throw even the Real Housewives of OC—and their kids—into consumer overload. If you want flash and trash—appliqué, beads, feathers, sequins, bejeweled cowboy boots—you've still come to the right place. But the irrationally exuberant Vegas of the past 15 years has been busy building signature homes for such seemingly recession-resistant icons as Barney’s, Saks, and Neiman Marcus, as well as hotshot designer boutiques from Armani to Zegna. You’d swear Anna Wintour personally selected the cutting-edge couturiers, Catherine Malandrino to Michael Kors, for the Las Vegas shopping districts at Bellagio, CityCenter, The Venetian/Palazzo, and Wynn/Encore. This being Las Vegas, where all the world’s truly a stage, you may choose to be a spectator in this show. Or you can revel in the entertainment and take your dollars to the bank—the wind-up snow dome Strip bank you’ll find at Bonanza Gift & Souvenir Shops.
To hear the creators—Daniel Libeskind and David Rockwell describe it—Crystals, the latest Las Vegas shopping experience, is a living thing, be it a New York neighborhood that is always unfolding and changing character, or a scene in nature that is moving with the day, the temperature, the light, the season. It’s part metropolis, part gallery, part iceberg. The 500,000 square-foot space is all form and finds inside sweeping white spaces of aluminum, glass and wood. Life follows art here and art is everywhere—in the negative spaces, in the ever-changing tubular ice sculptures, in the funny wooden tree house, and even in the stores. Tiffany has a two-level store here with a door that opens onto the Strip. Louis Vuitton placed the largest store in North America inside Crystals. Tom Ford has a signature boutique here. Eva Longoria Parker has a restaurant and nightclub here and you can even find what might be one of the only bookstores on the Strip here: Assouline by Assouline Publishing.
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An amble through the Canal Shoppes that connects with the Shoppes at Palazzo can turn into a pricey adventure. The Palazzo’s upscale shop includes a flagship Barney’s New York, Bottega Veneta, Catherine Malandrino and Christian Louboutin among other titans and price tags to match. Still, it’s an entertaining two floors of window wishing around a dramatic two-story waterfall. The atmosphere shifts as you walk south. Suddenly you’re looking at a faux blue sky with clouds, mini-balcony villas of canary yellow and Umbrian orange. Human sculptures painted in silver wink at you and a portly lady in big skirts and a bonnet breaks into a twittering aria. This is Venice, Las Vegas-style, shallow canals, gondoliers and all. Narrow walkways lined with stores selling cheap Italian baubles and expensive Venetian masks combine with the usual amalgam of mall fare: Banana Republic, St. John Sport and Brookstone. Gondoliers will pole you to St. Mark’s Square and sing to you for $16, probably the best bargain you’ll find all day. Whether you are just browsing, or finding souvenirs for friends who were not fortunate enough to join you while shopping in Las Vegas, the Canal Shoppes and Shoppes at Palazzo are truly an adventure in commerce.
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Looking for bargain shopping in Las Vegas? Here’s where you’ll find them. You’ll have to drive… and you will have to fight for a parking place, but once in, enjoy the ride. Las Vegas Premium Outlets is where the locals go for designer duds. Sure, you’ll find the usual players: Coach has a store here, as does LeSportsac, Calvin Klein and Chico’s, but so does Kate Spade and St. John, DNKY, Ed Hardy and Salvatore Ferragamo. Some 150 stores occupy the open-air campus, all quite close to each other with directories well placed. What is off limits elsewhere is within reach at Premium Outlets. And if you don’t find it in one shop there’s always the store next door.
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This was the mall that started it all when it opened in 1992. It was the first themed mall in town and continues to wow crowds with two hourly animated fountain shows, continuous diurnal lighting effects that turn day into dusk, and 636,000 square feet of shopping and dining enveloped within a replica of the forum of ancient Rome. Wander the 160 shops and 12 restaurants—Gucci, Escada, Fendi, it’s all here along with an immersive FAO Schwartz experience, as well as apparel adventures at Jimmy Choo, Thomas Pink, Longchamps, Louis Vuitton. Watch the crowds around the Trevi-style fountain in air-conditioned comfort. On summer afternoons there is no better way to beat the heat than to go shopping in Las Vegas's Forum.
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Located at Center Strip, the Fashion Show gets more than 10 million people a year that travel this 2 million-square-foot retail extravaganza to cruise the more than 250 shops and cafes. The shops are mid-level chain mostly and “wow” was not what the developers had in mind when they built the mall in the 1980s. But it did have a Saks Fifth Avenue and a Neiman Marcus, and now it has a Nordstrom, Michael Kors, Fredericks of Hollywood, even an Apple store, plus an 80-foot runway with regularly scheduled fashion displays. The Fashion Show Mall is Las Vegas shopping at its best.
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