The 35th anniversary of Fashion Show Mall celebrates the largest shopping destination on the Strip, and early days that were strictly "only in Vegas."
Time flies! Fashion Show’s entrance looks distinctly different from its 1981 opening—including this massive “flying saucer” landmark, added in 2003.
Since its opening in 1981, both locals and tourists have flocked to Fashion Show, which brought five top department stores under one roof for the first time in the city and opened as only a Vegas institution can.
Terri Monsour, now senior VP of corporate retail for Caesars Entertainment, helped open Neiman Marcus as an assistant public relations associate in 1980. “In those days, the only luxury shopping was Joseph Magnin, next to the Desert Inn. Our population wasn’t even half a million, and along came Fashion Show and blew everyone away!” she recalls.
It was the heyday of Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, and Escada, she describes, and well-heeled locals regarded it as a retail sanctuary. “Gloria Fine modeled hats at the opening on Valentine’s Day, 1981,” Monsour recollects. “And Stanley Marcus came to the opening, where [legendary publicist] KJ Howe mooned the governor!” she laughs. A bull imported from Dallas (Neiman Marcus headquarters) named Red River—for whom a men’s denim bar was named—greeted new shoppers from a pen at the store’s entrance. And, these being the days in which retail was a perfect way to entertain gamblers’ bored significant others, “We actually accepted casino chips as currency. The guard would have to go to each casino to redeem them at the end of the day. I think we took the chips until at least 1990.”
An early-day highlight included loading U-Haul trucks with fashion in multiples for sheiks filling their planes for the women back home. “I remember one early ad that featured a model getting out of a Rolls-Royce in a giant fur, to show the glamour of the place,” Monsour shares, laughing. “Locals weren’t wearing them... It was too hot!”
These days, a runway rises out of the floor at Fashion Show to accommodate shows by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, which both expanded their already large stores when the mall nearly doubled in size in 2002 to its current footprint of almost 2 million square feet (with more expansion still happening!).
In many ways, the city can thank this seminal mall for the many branded boutiques in Las Vegas. After meeting with such success in Fashion Show’s department stores, brands like Chanel, Prada, Balenciaga, David Yurman, Brioni and many others ventured out to the Strip. There is no other city with four Chanel boutiques and six Louis Vuitton boutiques in walking distance of each other—brands that were originally introduced via Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Hats off, Fashion Show, and here’s to another 35!