Does Fashion Exist in Las Vegas?

Five experts testify that the city does in fact have a sense of fashion

“I didn’t even know this place was here. Las Vegas needs more places like this.”

This is what I heard a shopper cavalierly say recently as she perused the vintage styles at The Gypsy Den. She just moved here from Utah, and without meaning to, she exemplifies one of the greatest frustrations of lovers of fashion who reside in Las Vegas: having to defend our retail reputation.

The many people who move here each month are often equipped with an armory of snobbery, skepticism and preconceived notions. Established and proactive locals are well aware of The Gypsy Den, Patty’s Closet, First Fridays, and why Savers should be on everyone’s shopping radar.

Vegas Seven gathered a panel of fashion and retail experts in effort to resolve the issue once and for all: Does fashion exist in Las Vegas?

Christie Moeller Fashion stylist with icanstyleu.com

Photo by Anthony Mair

A Las Vegas original, Christie Moeller has 12 years’ experience dressing celebrities and selecting styles for magazines. She is the go-to-girl for glamour, fashion and style for local print publications and advertisers.

Does fashion exist in Las Vegas?

Most definitely.

Prove it.

As far as fashion goes, Las Vegas covers basically every kind of shopper. You can shop couture here. You can be a brand-conscious shopper here. You can be a trendy shopper here. You can be a vintage shopper here. And Las Vegas covers all those markets.

How would you describe Las Vegas’ style?

Las Vegas has a very urban, hip image. It’s trendy, current. Just like the nightclubs here, people want to try what’s new and leave the old ones behind. People try to stay fashion forward. It’s definitely a West Coast-style, but it’s a very urban look.

What do you have to say to those people who don’t believe that fashion exists in Las Vegas?

Then why do you come here to do your shopping? Because when you walk through the Forum Shops or CityCenter or Fashion Show, I’d say 60-70 percent of the people shopping there are from out of town. Vegas gets a bad rep because we have that classic stereotype of everyone coming here and it being glitter and boobs and fake eyelashes. But that’s really the tourists who are doing that, not so much the locals.

What would you love to change about Las Vegas fashion?

I would change the typical boobs hanging out look; and the image of what people think Las Vegas is. Even some of my clients fall prey to this. If we do an ad for a nightclub, they may want that typical boobs hanging out, shiny tight dress and not the cool, urban look, which is more what the locals in Las Vegas dress like.

What does the future hold for fashion in Las Vegas?

The future only gets better. Every day we have a new, great store opening. We’re getting the three-story H&M in Forum Shops, which is amazing for trend shoppers. And we just got Miu Miu over at CityCenter. It changes daily. It can only get bigger and better. Las Vegas gets a lot of exclusivity that people don’t give us credit for.

Katie Cewe Owner, The Gypsy Den

Photo by Anthony Mair

As the daughter of longtime Las Vegas entertainers, Cewe’s passion for fashion began with an adoration of her mother’s costumes and an addiction to vintage shopping at the age of 10. After graduating from Green Valley High School, she discovered that not only was she good at purchasing vintage clothing, she was good at selling it online, which she did during her college days. Upon returning to Las Vegas, she knew she wanted her own vintage boutique, opening The Gypsy Den two years ago, which is only one of two vintage clothing and accessories brick-and-mortar stores in all of Las Vegas. Cewe’s store has become a local favorite, attracting tons of shoppers every First Friday.

Does fashion exist in Las Vegas?

Definitely.

Prove it.

Fashion exists wherever you go. As long as it’s unique, I think it’s fashionable.

How would you describe Las Vegas’ style?

One thing about Vegas is that the weather is pretty extreme. So, it’s kind of hard to be fashionable when you don’t want to be wearing anything at all. I think it depends on where you’re going or what you’re doing. But in Las Vegas we always try to look as fashionable as we can.

What do you have to say to those people who don’t believe that fashion exists in Las Vegas?

I think they’re just not from here. There’s definitely amazing shopping in Las Vegas. On the Strip, there’s designer. But off the Strip, there are a lot of little places that are cool, too.

What does the future hold for fashion in Las Vegas?

I hope more shops open up that have affordable fashion and handmade items. More vintage shops would be nice. I would like to see more local boutiques. We have some, but I wish there were more, like what you see on Melrose.

Patricia Barba Owner, Patty’s Closet

Photo by Anthony Mair

With three women’s fashion boutiques situated across Las Vegas and Henderson, Barba is not only a great resource for fashion information and inspiration, she is well on her way to becoming a Las Vegas fashion icon. The native is running for Mrs. Nevada and has garnered much media attention. For example, her boutique was recently chosen as the 2010 Best Store for Women’s Clothing by the editors and readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Does fashion exist in Las Vegas?

Oh, yeah. For sure.

Prove it.

Vegas is a melting pot. We come from all over the world, all over the country. Vegas is the school where everyone is teaching each other about style and fashion. Las Vegas is a good place to adopt new trends and adopt new styles.

How would you describe Las Vegas’ style?

We have the best of both worlds: the casual laid-back style of the West Coast for daytime, but at nighttime we go all out like New Yorkers.

What do you have to say to those people who don’t believe that fashion exists in Las Vegas?

They just haven’t found it yet.

What would you love to change about Las Vegas fashion?

For it to gain more recognition. I would love for people to talk about it more, for there to be more fashion events, schools and programs.

What does the future hold for fashion in Las Vegas?

I think it will get its own unique, distinct style. It’ll be a mix of casual and resort, but still sophisticated. It can only get better.

Nancy K. Bohnett Academic director, Art Institute of Las Vegas

Photo by Anthony Mair

She has only been here since 2006, but she has worked with Las Vegas clients and done business in the Valley since 1979. Her job is to oversee the interior design, fashion and retail management programs at the institute, so Bohnett is well-versed in the business side of fashion including consumer behavior. She also plays a pivotal role in the planning and execution of Fashion Camp, a fashion education program for teenagers conducted each summer at Fashion Show.

Does fashion exist in Las Vegas?

Absolutely.

Prove it.

Look at the retailers who’ve come to the Vegas Valley to bring opportunities that other places in the world don’t have. With that comes very high fashion and strong quality goods. And it really allows the locals an understanding and value of the retailers. To visit those spaces influences their way of valuing good fashion. I definitely think that those retailers who make a difference in fashion are here. There’s been talk of bringing more of the fashion industry, because of the affordability of Las Vegas. But, yet, fashion is everywhere. And we have a lot of it here.

How would you describe Las Vegas’ style?

I think it’s an anything-goes attitude.

What do you have to say to those people who don’t believe that fashion exists in Las Vegas?

Go outside. Visit those retail venues that expose it in a healthy, enticing and seductive way. And people watch. It’s just fascinating. No matter where you go, good or bad, it’s happening. Open your eyes. It’s around you.

What would you love to change about Las Vegas fashion?

It would be nice if more people took advantage of the better styling and clothing, and how to really pair it up. People can wear clothes that aren’t expensive and still look nice. I think that there needs to be more education, that can expose people to good relationships with themselves and what they wear. “Anything goes” has gone on for so long that we may need to reel it in a bit.

What does the future hold for fashion in Las Vegas?

It’s endless. This valley is hungry for new opportunities. If you bring it here, it will be so well-received. It would be great to see more fashion venues and shows.

Cherine Cope Manager, Giuseppe Zanotti

Photo by Anthony Mair

Her fashion experience and Las Vegas residency extends back to the 1980s, working with such brands as Donald Pliner, Stuart Weitzman, Christian Louboutin, L.A.M.B., Betsey Johnson, Laundry, Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs before joining Giuseppe Zanotti USA in 2004. As the manager and buyer of the Giuseppe Zanotti store in the Forum Shops at Caesars, Cope understands fashion and retail trends very well and uses her expertise to keep high fashion and luxury consumers looking like VIPs.

Does fashion exist in Las Vegas?

Yes, it does.

Prove it.

Look at the development of all the different malls and the high-end stores that we have now, probably since ’92, when the Forum Shops opened up. That was the first mecca of shopping in Las Vegas. And since then there have been several other high-end malls that have opened. So now we’ve become a destination for fashion shopping, like L.A. is and like New York is.

How would you describe Las Vegas’ style?

It’s so different. People come into my store looking for bling. They like sexy shoes, glamorous shoes, platforms, high heels. It’s all about looking your best when you go out.

What do you have to say to those people who don’t believe that fashion exists in Las Vegas?

That they need to spend some time here. I think what they’re talking about are the tourists. When people travel, they dress more comfortable. They dress to walk a lot. If you actually go into the areas where people reside, the locals, you’ll actually see that people who live here are very fashionable.

What would you love to change about Las Vegas fashion?

Less head-to-toe animal print.

What does the future hold for fashion in Vegas?

There’s just more to come. We keep getting all the high-end stores there are in the world. As we get more stores, more people come looking for those stores, so it brings more visitors. I just think we’re going to excel even farther in fashion. Hopefully, someday we’ll catch up with L.A. and New York. I think we’re getting better and better every year.

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