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Barneys on the Strip: Whimsy and More

Barneys New York arrived here Thursday with its usual style and wit and another trait not commonly associated with the retailer - flamboyance.

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The grand staircase on Barneys New Yorks main floor
LAS VEGAS — Barneys New York arrived here Thursday with its usual style and wit and another trait not commonly associated with the retailer — flamboyance.

"There's more glitter here," said creative director Simon Doonan. "There was a conscious desire by us to inject a little flamboyance into the store."

And, while Barneys may be known for its affinity for the color black, the Las Vegas store is alive with brightly colored apparel and accessories.

The store will carry plenty of directional designers. "It's going to be fun to introduce Marni and Dries Van Noten to Las Vegas," Doonan said. "It's going to feel very fresh and new. The subtlety and craft of fashion really differentiates us."

The 81,000-square-foot store is Barneys' first in Vegas. "This has been a long process," said Howard Socol, chairman and chief executive officer, during an interview in one of the store's personal shopping suites. "We were invited to go to a lot of different places. We wanted the right location."

The Palazzo, a $2 billion stand-alone resort developed by the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has rolled out the welcome mat for Barneys. Signage throughout the casino directs people to the store and there are signs showing the way to Barneys at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, the Palazzo's sister property.

Part of the appeal of the site for Barneys was the fact that the store would have its own street entrance with valet parking. "To see Barneys New York from Las Vegas Boulevard is great," Socol said, noting Barneys is the only fashion retailer with its own facade on the Strip.

The facade, sheathed in glass, has a spiral pattern made up of hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades and was designed by artist John Paul Phillippe, whose work is found elsewhere in the store, and includes the backlit line drawings that are used to decorate the cosmetics cases on the main floor.

The Foundation beauty area features two Frederic Malle scent chambers, which Doonan calls "our 'Beam me up, Scottie,' columns," noting they allow Malle's exclusive scents to be sampled in a "completely untainted environment."
Accessories include Givenchy, the Barneys New York collection, Lanvin, Henri Cuir and Miu Miu. A separate Valextra shop sells the Italian brand's leather goods.

Jeffrey Hutchinson, who designed the store, said, "Barneys doesn't do cookie-cutter stores." The focal point is a grand elliptical staircase. "The materials are very sophisticated," he said. "We used a lighter palette, oak, teak and sycamore. Some of the fixtures are sculptural, almost Giacometti-like."

Barneys is particularly bullish on the jewelry business, as evidenced by the amount of space given over to the category. In addition to a large selection of fine jewelry on the ground floor featuring designers such as Linda Lee Johnson and Cathy Waterman, a jewelry mezzanine offers Frederica Rettore, Lucifer Vir Honestus, Rene Lewis and Sharon Khazzam. "If you're a Russian oligarch, you can come up here with your wife or girlfriend for privacy," observed Doonan.

"The jewelry assortment reaches a lot of different levels," said Socol. "We've added some zest."

Barneys' characteristic wit and humor greets customers on the second floor, where a large giraffe made out of jeans stands sentry in front of the Co-op. Here, designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Helmut Lang can be found along with Rogan, Mayle and Loomstate for Barneys New York. Turn the corner and there's Pucci and Fabucci.

Designers include Lanvin, Marni, Balenciaga, Giles Deacon, Vionnet, Prada, Stella McCartney and Fendi. There's also L'Wren, Burberry Prorsum and Nina Ricci. Fashion runs the gamut from a white leather and lace Jean Paul Gaultier jacket, for $5,495, to a Proenza Schouler beaded dress, $7,500.

The shoe department "might be our biggest ever," said Doonan. It features the usual suspects such as Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Prada, as well as Chloé, Lanvin and Azzedine Alaïa.

The store is emphasizing service, with two concierges and three personal shopping suites outfitted with leather club chairs and flat-screen TVs.

Barneys officially opened on Thursday, but many of the stores in the adjacent Palazzo Shoppes are not open. A spokeswoman for the property said the mall is more than 90 percent leased. Several retailers are opening their first Las Vegas stores at the Palazzo, including Tory Burch, Van Cleef & Arpels, Diane von Furstenberg, Chloé, Christian Louboutin, Catherine Malandrino, Anya Hindmarch, Lambertson Truex, Michael Kors and Poleci. General Growth Properties is in the process of acquiring the Palazzo's retail component.
Cole Haan is launching its new prototype today, a 3,200-square-foot unit with a white-stained oak floor.

Jimmy Choo was putting the finishing touches on its store on Thursday. Brian Henke, president of Jimmy Choo USA, said the company's unit in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace produces more than $3,000 a square foot in sales.

Across the way, Piaget also was getting ready to open. Larry Boland, president of North America, said the store's average sale is $25,000. The most expensive piece in the store, a $1.5 million diamond-encrusted watch, sat in the window waiting for a high roller to come in.

Socol declined to reveal sales projections, but admitted, "We think this could be one of our top stores."

And, this being Vegas, where no one ever sleeps, Barneys is adapting its hours accordingly — the store will be open until 11 every night to catch all those crowds exiting shows, such as "Blue Man Group" at the Palazzo, and looking for something else to do.


For additional photos click here.