Like a fantasy mirage, Crystals at City Center, an ambitious new shopping “district,” has sprung up in the desert. Boasting 500,0000-square-feet of retail space, LEED® Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the largest Louis Vuitton and Prada stores in North America as well as first-time Vegas retailers from Miu Miu to Paul Smith, it’s hard to imagine anything more inviting for retail lovers.
Distinguishing itself from the typical Vegas experience with Daniel Libeskind’s imposing and angular architecture, the center features lots of light, air and space, as well as ever changing live flower carpets and hanging plants throughout. Sixty-eight stores are slated to be open by Fall 2010, including a yet to be found multi-brand store. But with Assouline, Marni, Kiton, Lanvin and Tom Ford already flocking to Crystals—the latter contractually bound to debut his women’s collection exclusively there for two years—brands such as Bottega Veneta and Fendi are now building large format stores that feature goods exclusive to their Crystals location. Even Roberto Cavalli has decided to make its Crystals store their largest location in the world.
In her prescient treatise on luxury, Deluxe (2007), Dana Thomas argued that Crystals will become the new port for discriminating shoppers on the hunt for exclusive luxury. As Vegas makes itself synonymous with not just gambling and entertainment, but also shopping, these brands will experience a significant shift in terms of where people search for luxury. It’s a risky proposition in a global recession, but so far it has been met with welcome arms by the millions of yearly visitors who visit what used to be a sleepy little outpost in the Mojave.