Thursday, March 8, 2012 | 1:36 p.m.
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Sir Philip Green
Chef Theo Schoenegger
It’s another British invasion! This time around, however, it’s cool British style rather than the Mayflower’s Pilgrims or the Beatles. Today at 4 p.m. at Fashion Show, U.K. billionaire mogul Sir Phillip Green opens his first TopShop and TopMan flagship fashion stores in advance of a massive U.S. expansion.
A London-styled, red double-decker bus will arrive with runway models, plus “House of Lies” actress Kristen Bell, model Lydia Hearst, “Holly’s World” pals Angel Porrino and Josh Strickland and Jade Kelsall, Miss Nevada USA who is the local TopShop ambassador. A shopping frenzy is predicted as with other TopShop openings around the world.
On Wednesday night, Sir Phillip, one of Britain’s richest men and on the list of the Top 100 Most Influential Men in the World, hosted the first of two Las Vegas glitterati dinner parties at Sinatra in the Encore for Steve Wynn and his wife Andrea, rival Venetian kingpin Rob Goldstein and wife Cheryl, Caesars Palace chieftain Gary Selesner and wife Peggy and Planet Hollywood International head honcho Robert Earl.
Also in attendance: Wynn chef Paul Bartolotta, Linq real-estate developer Rick Caruso and several fashion designers who work for the British retailer chain. Tonight, Sir Phillip takes over Lakeside at the Wynn for opening day ribbon- cutting celebrations.
High-roller Sir Philip, who is a regular Las Vegas visitor, toured his newest, sleek, 20,000-square-foot flagship store Wednesday and gave it a thumbs-up vote of approval. He owns eight U.K. fashion brands and has more than 2,500 outlets in 37 countries. Last year, he was honored with the International Retailer Award at the annual global convention in New York.
“Our Las Vegas collection has a lot of the sparkle and glitz of the city,” said Jacqui Markham, the style director. “There’s retro casino graphics, old style glamour of speakeasy clubs and dancing girls. Motifs feature dollar signs, slot machine and playing card symbols. Dresses are encrusted with sequins, and everything from shorts to skirts to sandals is embellished with rhinestones, crystals and diamante sparkle. Even our Razzmatazz nail color is super glittery with the sparkle of disco mirror balls!”
Gordon Richardson, the design director, added: “While designing our new Las Vegas collection, I wanted pieces that reference the traditional time of Sinatra and the Rat Pack.”
Steve Wynn surprised Sir Phillip’s party by bringing in Yale University’s a capella chorale the Whiffenpoofs, who entertained with their famous melodies and songs. Sinatra chef Theo Schoenegger created a phenomenal dinner for the platinum power people that included his signature dishes and pasta trios.
While at the party, I talked with Rick Caruso, CEO of the new half-billion-dollar Linq project under construction for Caesars Entertainment facing Caesars Palace and between Imperial Palace and the Flamingo that will see O’Sheas close before summer fun begins. He also is the boss of the incredibly successful Grove entertainment and shopping district in Hollywood that has posted the highest retail sales volumes in the U.S. since opening, attracted more than 18 million annual visitors and is now the home of Mario Lopez’s “Extra.”
The Linq is the first major development plan on the Strip since the economy slid into recession in 2007. It will have 200,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and create 1,500 jobs after 3,000 construction workers complete the work. Described as an open-air entertainment district that will change the skyline, it will feature the 550-foot-tall observation wheel the High Roller, said to be the tallest in the world.
(Don’t confuse the High Roller with the 500-foot SkyVue observation wheel in the amusement park that began construction opposite Mandalay Bay last week. Skeptics say only one of the two wheels will be completed and successful.)
“There is nothing like the Linq in Las Vegas,” Rick said. “We open in the fall of next year. Construction is going well, and we are already 50 percent leased with the stores and cafes and more demand than we need. We are being very selective, so it is totally unique. The wheel itself is also under construction. It’s all aimed at Generation X and Y, and it will be the hottest shopping and entertainment destination in the Southwest.
“Shopping has become entertainment -- it’s how you wrap it up, so it’s no longer traditional but an entertaining experience. I am very confident about the economy. It’s good and growing. … Sir Phillip’s new stores prove it. People are out spending and shopping again en masse.
“We’d looked at Las Vegas for years. We believe the time is now ideal to create an environment that appeals to ever-changing consumer tastes and elevates the retail and entertainment experience. It will definitely be the top spot to see and be seen.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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