A cluster of geometric shapes with jagged edges rise from the ground; Las Vegas’s most expensive shopping destination looks like a giant crystal and lends the store its name Crystal. During the day, the glass grids perform the dual function of embellishing the high ceiling and sloping white walls and setting the interiors aglow with ample sunlight that filters through.
It’s terribly easy to get carried away at this 500,000 sq. ft. abode of 50-plus of the finest luxury brands. With the right purse size, who wouldn’t? Crystals is famed for having more high-end flagship stores of brands, including Vuitton, Prada, FENDI, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Celine, Tourbillon, Van Cleef & Arpels, Ermenegildo Zegna – than any place in the US. Some like Brunello Cucinelli, BVLGARI, Audemars Piguet, Porsche Design, Mikimoto, Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, Richard Mille, Saint Laurent Paris, etc. aren’t anywhere else in Las Vegas.
Crystals has the reputation of offering the largest collection of exclusives. Dolce and Gabbana, at inception, created a limited run of 10 jackets purely for this outpost. Hermes here has a special ‘Crystals’ jewellery line and Tom Ford, its first and only cosmetic collection. Brunello Cucinelli here boasts the largest selection of jewellery sold at any boutique in the US. Louis Vuitton and FENDI’s complete lines and Balenciaga and Saint Laurent’s ready-to-wear lines, as well as the latter’s beauty products, aren’t available anywhere else in Las Vegas.
Just recently, Jimmy Choo launched its limited-edition ostrich feather pumps at the store. Inspired by Vegas, Tiffany recently came up with poker chip charms. Regarding the trends they’re witnessing, Crystals’ director of marketing and business development, Monique Clements, says, “Increasingly everything is skewed towards sportswear rather than ready-to-wear, and catering to a much younger demographic, very casual pieces are being made of very luxurious material. It has also given rise to brighter colours, more interesting prints and stuff that’s fun and playful.”
Reportedly a favourite of celebrities like Celine Dion, Ricky Martin, high-rollers and we’re told even sheikhs and NBA players, Crystals has quite the VIP focus. If a Berluti boutique anywhere else custom-dies shoes and bags in two weeks, Clements says, “here you’ll get it in 24-48 hours.” On weekends, Louis Vuitton’s artisans come and hand-paint bags. Several brands have VIP rooms within their stores – we’re told some are a sprawling 1,500 sq.ft., some have chandeliers imported from Italy, some have private escalators, some even kitchens…the works. A sneak peek of Prada’s room reveals cozy interiors with wooden flooring, wooded walls and matching cocoa-coloured couches. At one corner, its iconic black travelling trunk stands bold and walls adorn culture with photography displays and in-the-wall bookshelves carrying several copies of John Wesley in its collection. Though the LV store is all glam and colour, its VIP room also seems inspired by browns that the flooring, wall tapestry and leather chairs embrace in different shades. Light boxes fitted in Tetris-styled tiled walls, light-fall on coral-coloured framed panels and dramatic blue designs on white side tables, give it a glossy lift. With tri-fold vanity mirrors and granite counters, Tom Ford’s made-to-measure room for men is just chic.
As you zip in and out of shops or amble at your own pace stopping at critically acclaimed restaurants like Todd English’s P.U.B. or Wolfgang Puck’s Cucina, you’ll find that this enclosed mall has been designed to feel very open feel. In fact, besides natural lighting that reduces dependency on electric lights, proving that sustainable luxury is for real, Crystals saves energy with radiant floor cooling to chill air specifically in occupied areas rather than the entire space and efficient water fixtures, estimated to save 1.8mn gallons. While much of these efforts are intangible, the artwork is anything but. The floor-to-ceiling Treehouse, a permanent installation that houses Crystals’ concierge at the bottom/roots and Mastro’s Ocean Club diner in the middle, is unmissable. But for some like this author, who likes fun and frolic, it’s the little tornados swirling in clear cylinders, changing colours and levels, called Halo, or un-melting carved ice pillars/frozen monoliths of which some rise to 15ft called Glacia, that captivate. The play of coloured lights reflecting on it, creating never-repeated visuals, makes it tougher to look away. The most coveted, though, is James Turrell’s Shards of Colour fading in and out of different tints and can be seen from different parts of the mall. If you wish you can stand inside the installation too. There’s one more immersive light exhibit by Turrell to be experienced, but by appointment-only. Akhob takes up the entire top floor of the Louis Vuitton store; it flips different hues of as you walk up the semi-circular staircase, leading to a semicircular door, and then another…like you’re heading to infinity. Larger than life, neon, glitzy…just like everything in Vegas.