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70% off? It's a deal, baby

Time your Vegas trip right and amazing sales at top boutiques await.

August 19, 2007|Booth Moore | Times Staff Writer

Las Vegas

ALONG with the other superlatives about Vegas -- it's the world's fastest growing city, the world's best dining city, the city with the world's most hotel rooms -- you can now add this: It also may be the best shopping city on the planet.

It's the only spot in the U.S. besides New York to have Manolo Blahnik, Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix stores. The trendy Scoop boutique hasn't made it to L.A. yet, but there's one at Caesars Forum Shops, which also has Kate Spade and Emilio Pucci stores that we don't have here.

Vegas is one of the best places to find a bathing suit (I recommend the Wynn's Mojitos store or the Bellagio's Capri), a pair of blingy sandals or a $27,000 evening gown. The Fashion Show Mall has 2 million square feet of shopping, daily fashion shows and six department stores under one roof.

Because Las Vegas turns over 1 million new potential customers every week, the stores are incredibly well stocked, and not just with sizes 2 and 4, but often up to 14, 16 and 18. Service is the antithesis of snooty. And where else can you wander into a shop sipping a yard of margarita?

And we haven't even mentioned the crazy sales. There's the story of the public relations assistant who snagged four pairs of Marc Jacobs shoes at the designer's store at the Forum shops for $99 each, and the editor who found this season's must-have YSL "Downtown" tote half-off at the Bellagio's boutique.

Shopping in Vegas is great year-round, but there is a cycle to it. In mid-September and mid-March you will find the best selection of new season merchandise. There are sales every quarter, but twice a year -- mid-July to the end of August and mid-December to the end of February -- you will find the mother lode.

Every casino on the Strip has glittering designer stores but you really need to go only to the Wynn, the Bellagio, Caesars Forum Shops and the Fashion Show Mall for the best of it.

During the third week of July, I hit town on the first day of the 70%-off sales at the Wynn. Along the shopping Esplanade, multi-label designer boutique Outfit had racks and racks of Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney and Matthew Williamson. There was the Temperley black floral dress I was eyeing all summer marked $275 from $875.

Outfit is a great store even when there's not a sale -- with exclusives from designers such as Monique Lhuillier and Sophia Kokosalaki. The store recently bought a $27,000 Nina Ricci dress. "We have a customer who can handle that," says Todd Hanshaw, the resort's retail buyer.

Next door at Shoe In, the sale racks were almost picked clean. The lesson? Hit Shoe In first thing in the morning when the sales are on.

I didn't fare much better at Manolo Blahnik, where there was a corner of 50%-off shoes, including a pair of suede moccasins I paid full price for last fall. (Grrr. . . .)

Across Las Vegas Boulevard (there's a pedestrian bridge) is Fashion Show Mall, which has more than 200 stores, including Puma, Paul Frank, Zara and local favorite, Talulah G. With only a few hours of Neiman Marcus' Last Call left, the sale racks were full. Last Call is always better here than anywhere else -- I've scored Missoni and Pucci scarves, Christian Louboutin purses and Jean Paul Gaultier tops at 70% off.

If you want to hit the outlet mall in Primm, about 45 miles outside of Las Vegas, but you don't want the headache of driving there, you can catch a shoppers shuttle from the food court. Tickets are $15 at the Prestige Ticketing desk. (The shuttle also stops at the MGM Grand and Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.)

I feared the worst, but the experience was top-notch -- a clean, air-conditioned minibus and a nice-looking crowd. The bus dropped us outside the Ralph Lauren outlet, which was just ho-hum, but the Tod's store alone was worth the trip, with $75 shoes and $250 handbags.

The next morning, I started at the Forum shops at Caesars Palace, where there is free valet parking off Las Vegas Boulevard and on Jay Sarno Way. The Christian Dior and Jimmy Choo stores near the casino entrance were both 50% off, with lots of stock including a gorgeous Dior beaded peacock feather saddle bag for half off $1,495. And if they don't have your size, be sure to have the salespeople call the other stores. The city has two Diors and two Jimmy Choos, two Chanels and multiple Louis Vuittons.

Scoop is a must-see, located in the north wing, near the recreation of the Trevi fountain and spiral escalator. The store's $165, house-label ballet flats have a cult following.

The Bellagio is another high-end Valhalla, where I spotted a black cotton Prada dress for less than $400 and some adorable Prada huaraches for $230, both 50% off. Yves Saint Laurent was insanely discounted too, with the salesperson begging me to try on the jackets, sweaters and dresses. Don't miss La Scarpa for shoes by Dior, Casadei and Stuart Weitzman, including some styles I hadn't seen elsewhere.

And if you're feeling cash poor, there's the Attic downtown, a true Vegas experience with vintage polyester shirts, a chirping parrot and Elvis sunglasses aplenty. I bought a paisley chiffon shirtdress for $34 that could pass for Etro and was tempted by a feather boa next door at Rainbow Feather Co. I decided it was too hot for extra plumage, but made a note to return in February, when I'm sure I'll be back for the next round of sales.

For sale dates and other information: Caesars Palace, (702) 893-4800; the Wynn, (702) 770-3400; the Bellagio, (702) 693-7111; the Fashion Show Mall, (702) 784-7000.

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