Notes From Las Vegas

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I like Las Vegas, not enough to live there but enough to look forward to the five-hour flight from D.C. It’s a remarkable city that draws designers, retailers, craftsmen and brands from around the world. On my most recent business trip to Vegas I was able to carve out a little spare time to explore Sin City’s more acceptable vice: shopping.

While gambling – or gaming in the industry’s parlance – is the mother’s milk of Las Vegas, the city’s retail offerings rival most of the world’s A-list venues. Think of a brand and it more than likely has a presence in Vegas. And not only that, the city’s retail footprints are often large and glitzy. Like everything else in Las Vegas, bigger is better and flash always wins over subtlety.

As a consumer-dedicated destination city, you will see cheek by jowl companies that you did not even know had a store and familiar mass market luxury names – Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Cartier and Rolex to name only a tiny fraction. Some firms use their Vegas presence to create a new version of themselves, capitalizing on the town’s penchant for bigger and glitzier. I found an excellent expression of this philosophy in the Forum Shops at Caesars.

The Tourneau Time Dome is the venerable New York company’s Las Vegas Outlet. It’s Tourneau’s largest store; 35 custom-built brand shops-within-a-shop are spread across two-stories. From Swiss Army to Rolex to Breguet, more than 8,000 timepieces from 100 watchmakers are on display. Unsurprisingly, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the 17,500-square-foot space is the world’s largest watch store. If you are a watch person, you must visit this temple to luxury timekeeping.

And while you might expect to more fashion forward retailers in this other city that never sleeps, in the Forum Shops I encountered one of the nicest Brooks Brothers stores I’ve seen in quite a while. Large, well stocked and with a pleasant and knowledgeable sales staff, I’d go back in a minute.

Since I also have a thing for good pens and leather goods, I checked out the Mont Blanc store. I’ve never been too keen on their watches – I’m often like that with companies that aren’t really in the watch business; they are a pen company that moved into watches. I spent some time chatting with John Castiglione about the company’s plans to produce its own watch movements. With ETA close to ending its sales to non-Swatch Group watchmakers, Mont Blanc is taking the vertical integration approach and bringing everything in-house. Thanks to Mr. Castiglione, I have a better appreciation of Mont Blanc’s dedication to its watches. Maybe I do like the Timewalker after all.

Over at Belagio, Hermes is regular stop for me. It’s not the largest store, but it always has a wonderful selection of the company’s exceptionally crafted goods. The store also overlooks the Casino’s famous fountains. When I go out in Las Vegas, I always make a point of dressing up a bit. The place is choc a block with flip-flop wearing tourists; instead, I try to be the stylish traveler. There’s a big difference. Think “Ocean’s 11” – either version, though the newer one is to me the epitome of casually elegant modern style. As you wander through the swanky shopping arcades, aspire to be someone worth looking at. And in a place like Las Vegas, making the extra effort is extra fun.

If you really want to feel like a real high roller head over to the Wynn and check out Wynn Penske, one of the few factory authorized Ferrari & Maserati dealerships in the country. Once you’ve picked out your new set of wheels, visit the sumptuous Brioni boutique for some new custom duds. Then make a point to stop by Graff Jewelers and pick up a little 25 caret something for the girl in your life.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.