Today, the phrase “Las Vegas fashion” elicits thoughts of a grand shopping spree featuring Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo or Yves Saint Laurent. But before the Strip became a high-end retail destination, those words evoked thoughts of rhinestones, feathers, sequined jumpsuits and over-the-top artisanship.
In celebration of the latter, Vegas Style, an exhibit at the Nevada State Museum at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd., gives visitors a glimpse of the branding and history of our city’s fashion throughout the decades.
Under the direction of Deirdre Clemente, associate director of the UNLV public history program, exhibit co-curators Alex Hutchings and Alison Bazylisnki assembled a 10-station, 16-mannequin collection of vintage Vegas apparel, relics and photographs loaned by area museums and private collectors. Researched, curated and installed by students of UNLV’s Public History graduate program, the exhibition revives authentic outfits such as a royal-blue suit worn by Liberace, the onstage apparel of legendary Las Vegas comic headliner Shecky Greene, the garb of the original King and Queen from Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings and one of the Flying Elvis’ jumpsuits, complete with parachute.
The exhibit is open daily beginning Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
All of the items for the 6-month exhibit have been borrowed from individual collectors and area museums such as the Clark Country Museum, Nevada State Museum, the Liberace Museum, the Junior League’s Morelli House and the Las Vegas News Bureau. “We’ve come to discover that a lot of the costumes in Las Vegas are housed in people’s homes,” Clemente says. “We had talked about scaring people out of the woodwork from this show: ‘Hey, I have a hat that Sammy Davis threw into the audience and I caught in 1977.’ That’s the kind of stuff that we’re hoping it will do—bring things that are rotting in people’s closets into a museum.” Check out a selection from the exhibit below.
In the 1990s, as Las Vegas was reimagined into a family-friendly resort town, costuming turned cartoonish. This garment was taken from the original Tournament of Kings show at Excalibur.