When a girlfriends’ getaway takes place in Las Vegas, shopping
is serious business.
By Lindsey Baker
Good style starts with good shopping. Yes, designer names offer classic quality–a little black dress, for example. But quirk and personality–a layered crystal necklace or the perfect ’60s-inspired square-toed heel–those are the results of a little digging, visits to local boutiques, vintage and thrift shops that are tucked away in secret spots.
Above: The Fashion Show Mall on Vegas’ Strip easily is a days’ worth of shopping. Las Vegas News Bureau photo
Illustration in title: © Natalya Semenchuk - Fotolia.com
Below: The Fremont Street Experience is not far from trendy Fremont East and Emergency Arts. The Experience is filled with street performers, casinos and more. Las Vegas News Bureau photo
My sister and I, along with several of our girlfriends, pride ourselves on our shopping skills. Unleashed on the streets of Las Vegas for our annual girlfriends’ getaway, we were poised to hone them, not just for the perfect Vegas outfit but for the perfect Vegas vacation, too. In true fashion, we split our time between trusted classics on the Strip and unusual finds elsewhere in the city.
Ready to wear
Of course, the best way to prepare for a day of shopping is with a hearty breakfast, though “hearty” is perhaps an understatement at Hash House A Go Go. Two locations–one in the Imperial Palace and another in The M Resort Spa Casino–serve up more-than-heaping portions of “twisted farm food.” We piled our table with coffee, many-layered benedicts, steaming biscuits, signature hashes and a granola-stuffed waffle that was practically pizza-sized. Fed and caffeinated, we were ready to tackle the first shopping spot of the day: the 2 million-square-foot Fashion Show Mall.
With seven flagship stores and two stories of ready-to-wear contemporary shops, Fashion Show Mall tempts from the north end of the Vegas Strip. Mango, Forever 21, Steve Madden and Nine West cater to trend shoppers, while Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors offer investments in fashion. In the middle of the mall, Fashion Show’s Runway is the place for hourly shows from noon to 6 p.m. Friday–Sunday that highlight the latest from mall retailers. We didn’t catch a show, but it would’ve been a good way to pick out shopping destinations; taken altogether, there’s a lot to navigate. Serious shoppers could spend an entire day in just a few of the flagships.
We whiled away a few hours with the crowds at some of our favorite names then headed away from the Strip for more intimate browsing. The pick of the day was resale franchise Buffalo Exchange, where shoppers can buy, sell and trade clothing, shoes and accessories. This is a place of new, thrift and vintage–with appropriate low- to mid-level price tags attached–and it naturally begs for a little dressing room dress-up. We tried on silly ’70s caftans and spangled ’80s mini-skirts, modern designer jeans and scads of sunglasses. I snatched up a cat-eyed pair of the latter, along with a heart-print Marc Jacobs blouse, for a song.
Through the doors underneath Emergency Art’s neon red cross, the Beat Coffeehouse and Records gave us a place to rest our feet, though not for long. Situated in the former Fremont Medical Building in downtown Las Vegas’ still-emerging Fremont East District, Emergency Arts is a collective of working artists and artisans, designers, photographers, musicians and nonprofit start-ups. While a calendar of events includes yoga, poetry readings and rock shows, the cooperative’s tenants present work and wares in individual spaces throughout the building all the time. The first floor holds a gallery space with rotating exhibits.
It’s all available for visitors’ perusal, before or after they check out the crates of records at the back of the Beat. Another option is to grab a cup of coffee, glass of wine, snack or sandwich and a selection from the Beat’s Zine Library, a collection of small, self-published noncommercial magazines with underground art and writing.
Late-afternoon visitors, such as we were were, could easily make an Emergency Arts segue into an evening in funky Fremont East–where the retro-salon-themed Beauty Bar and bohemian Downtown Cocktail Room serve swanky libations–or the bigger, flashier Fremont Street Experience nearby. An alternative to the Strip with its regular and roaming performances and 10 casinos, the Experience features a pedestrian mall covered with a neon-lit Viva Vision Canopy.
We decided to make our way back to the Strip for dinner. Thomas Keller was calling.
Keller’s Bouchon Bistro was created as a sort of casual sibling to the chef’s famed first restaurant, the French Laundry. Bouchon Bistro resides in the Venetian’s Venezia Tower.
There’s French-country warmth in Bouchon’s gold-hued walls and blue-and-white mosaic-tiled floors and charm in the informal beginnings; the paper menus wrap napkins and bread is served directly on the tables’ white butcher-paper covers. But the real reason to go is the food.
French bistro classics such as quiche, croque madame (ham and cheese sandwich with egg) and steak frites (steak and French fries) are rustic but, here, revered. My group of girls had no trouble filling our table again, this time with a tasting portion of cheeses, sauteed gnocchi, Steak Bouchon, mixed green salads and macaroni au gratin.
We weren’t worried about our waistlines at all. At the end of a day of browsing, we new Las Vegas was a perfect fit.
Lindsey Baker is regional editor of Home & Away.