Jewels of Las Vegas
Published June 14, 2010
PHOTOS BE KELLEY HOFFMAN
“…And remember, what happens in Vegas ends up on Facebook,” the stewardess announced as my plane landed in Las Vegas. The three bachelor parties on my flight cheered in delight, while I gulped in preparation for a weekend in Vegas. “Desert Chic” had been the muted but ubiquitous mantra on the Spring/Summer 2010 runways, with nudes and glowy, bronzed skin at Celine and Erin Wasson x RVCA. There was all kinds of Southwest-themed jewelry, too: Pamela Love’s arrowhead rings, House of Waris’ palm leaf-detailed earrings and Alexandra Cassantini x Unearthern’s sand pendants. In fact, it was jeweler Thomas Sabo, known for his classic but on-trend sterling silver, who invited me to the opening party of his new Vegas store. Of course, like everyone, I had some ideas about what to expect from Las Vegas—for instance, who needs desert chic when you spend your day idling through stadium-sized hotels with self-contained ecosystems? I was unsure about the city’s fashion cred, to be sure.
On my first night, I checked into my hotel, the glittery Encore at Wynn. The resort casino was full of oversized red chandeliers, surprisingly gigantic butterfly decals, and full walls of mirrored rooms in my suite. I was joined by the Thomas Sabo team and international press members for dinner at Botero, a poolside steakhouse located in the hotel. There we encountered by conceptual (read: not biological) identical twins/iPad DJs/creative consultants Andrew and Andrew, who were there reporting, too. Apparently, they matching their outfits all the way down to their identical shirt rips. The planned to spend the rest of the evening at the roulette tables. “I usually lose a hundred, and he usually wins a hundred,” Andrew said of their strategy.
I met up with Bebe Zeva, the 17-year-old local who, like many in her position (pretty and with tousled hair, energetic), has been making a name for herself on the Internet, as a muse/model for The Cobra Snake and the music blog Hipsterrunoff. An aspiring journalist, she’s gained a growing following by blogging her observations of people’s behaviors both in social networking and in real life. Recently, the 17-year-old gave her vagina a name on twitter. We walked up the strip and she explained what underage kids can do to contribute to the City of Sin: “I like to take these and stick them in Twilight books,” she said of the nudie photobooks next to the newspaper stands on the street all over the city. “I go to McDonald’s, walk around casinos with my sister and people-watch.” She took me to a fast-food restaurant, where over the course of a half-hour we were chatted up by a Canadian teenager (beer in hand, with his family at the next table over) and witnessed a ten person fight, in which more than one pair of flip flops went flying. “This is like everyday at lunch at high school,” she explained.
As for shopping: if you want to impress the casino crowd, you have your Barneys and Balenciaga, but for well-seasoned thrift hunters, she told me there wasn’t much point checking out the vintage shop The Attic. “Mark [Hunter] and I went shopping there and he found a pair of Bart Simpson pants. When he asked how much they were, they told him $75,” she says, appalled.
The next and final evening of my trip, I headed to the second Vegas store opening of jeweler Thomas Sabo at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian hotel. (Pictured left, Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage). My favorite selection from the shop was the Thomas Sabo Charm Club, full of sterling silver designs of skulls and seahorses, and eclectic, cartoony references in-between. Andrew and Andrew sported matching bracelets with charms of old-fashioned divers by the jeweler. Olivia Palermo and Nicky Hilton also came as guests of the brand. Palermo, for her part, was impressed by the city: “New York is good for people watching, but Vegas brings it to another level.”
Did Palermo have any memorable spottings? “At the airport I was standing there and a girl had a jersey dress down to her knees, and by the time I turned to walk out, it was up her thighs, she just yanked it up. I thought, that’s a wardrobe adjustment!”
I was curious to investigate life off the strip. Downtown, I swung by Emergency Art, a former medical center that has been revamped and rents studios to artists. It’s the first of its kind for downtown Vegas, and officially opens next month (along with a first floor coffee shop, a nod to the city’s nascent bohemianism). We drove by Frank Gehry’s first building in Las Vegas, a two-sided spectacle for The Cleveland Clinic Luo Ruvo Center for Brain Health, a facility devoted to treating patients with memory disorders. One side is composed of a curving metal trellis, with a contrasting side of geometric blocks. The contrasting halves dynamically make a startling picture of the two sides of the brain. (See left)
Walking around Fremont street, a busy street Downtown decorated with old signs from the Neon Museum (a non-profit devoted to collecting and studying neons—the “classic Las Vegas art form”).Next up was Frankie’s Tiki Bar, with hand-carved seats and dried blowfish decor. The final stop was at Artisan, a boutique hotel whose lobby is filled floor-to-ceiling with framed paintings and enough velvet, wood and chandeliers to shame New York’s renovated Jane Hotel. Indeed, I was beginning to miss New York again. Sooner than I knew it, the sun was rising and I was back on my flight to JFK. Final standing? All gains and no losses. Others lost flip-flops.