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Shopping trip: Las Vegas rising

November 23, 2010 |  3:01 pm

CrystalsWhen it comes to shopping, Las Vegas is well on its way to overtaking Los Angeles as the fashion capital of the West.

Despite the still-sluggish economy, luxury brands continue to pour money into the market, which boasts more high-end retail in the space of a few miles than almost any place on Earth. Not even New York or Los Angeles have four Louis Vuitton and four Chanel stores -- plus Neiman Marcus, Saks and Barneys New York.

I spent a few hours this weekend checking out the newest jewel in Las Vegas' shopping crown -- Crystals at CityCenter. Designed by Daniel Libeskind and the Rockwell Group, and opened in December of last year, it is a mall like no other. Its jutting ceiling planes and curved surfaces are impressive to look at (even if they are a bit difficult to navigate).

The Miu Miu boutique is my favorite in the world because it is so open and inviting. (By comparison, the Rodeo Drive boutique feels like a closet.)

The three-story Louis Vuitton is fabulous, too, stocked with all the runway show collection pieces, including the Monogram Fleur de Jais handbags with black sequin embroidery from Fall.

The Lanvin store at Crystals is the brand's first U.S. outpost outside of New York. (Tom Ford also chose Crystals for his first U.S. store outside New York.)

The three-level Prada has an entire floor devoted to shoes (including a collection of ballet flats made from vintage Prada fabrics, available only in Las Vegas). You'll also find Paul Smith, Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Fendi and more at Crystals -- along with a tempting selection of beers for refueling at Todd English's P.U.B.Crystals2

It's one-stop shopping. But it doesn't have to be.

The Wynn Las Vegas shops are must-sees for mind-bending shoes and new designers. Outfit is worthy of its growing reputation as one of the best multi-label boutiques in the country, right up there with Ikram in Chicago and Forty Five Ten in Dallas. Why? Because it champions emerging talents such as Pedro Lourenco and Prabal Gurung, alongside more well-known names such as Alaia, Lanvin, Temperley, Givenchy and more.

At shoe boutique In-Step at the Encore shops next door, there's not a heel lower than 3 inches. But every style on the shelf is a sculpture, from the Nicholas Kirkwood for Rodarte shoes with heels resembling melting candle wax, to the Charlotte Olympia pumps with hockey puck-sized exterior platforms.

The Shoppes at the Palazzo are worth a look, too, since that's where you will find the Christian Louboutin and Catherine Malandrino shops.

Then there's the old standby, the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Opened in 1992, they are the grand dames of Las Vegas retail. But the Forum Shops are still evolving. The first Reed Krakoff store outside of New York recently launched there. And next month, the world's largest H&M store will open its doors. I also like to drop into Scoop NYC while I'm there, because there's not one of those in L.A. either. Scoop has great private-label items, such as fur vests, as well as contemporary designer pieces.

But by far the best part of shopping in Las Vegas is the hours. Because where else can you try on designer shoes until 11 p.m. at night -- while carrying a yard of beer?

-- Booth Moore

Photos: Crystals at CityCenter houses such retailers as Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Credit: CityCenter.