14 December 2010

Swift on the heels of the Lanvin for H&M craziness, H&M opened their largest store in the world in Las Vegas on Saturday. It’s not just anywhere in Las Vegas, either – it’s in the Forum Shops at the mighty Caesars Palace.

And if you thought the UK flagship Regent Street branch was impressive, wait till you walk into this one (y’know on your next gambling rampage) – straight from the marble corridors and classical statues of Caesars to a 50-foot high atrium with spinning disco balls and mannequins hanging from the ceiling, a video screen on the back wall and a DJ perched on a platform 15 feet above your head.

The opening day queues were positively Lanvin-esque: plucky Americans started lining up at 2am, and by 6am – the same time as most people were leaving Caesars after a night of partying – the line was 1000 strong. By the time the shop opened at 10am, the queue was 50m long, four people deep, stretching back to one of the Forum Shops’ main attractions – a moving statue show of the Neptune myth (it’s Vegas, remember). Crowd control was at the max – staff let in just 800 people at 10am, and then 200 per hour after that.

The diehards didn’t go unrewarded – the first 1000 shoppers received a voucher in the shape of a casino chip, nabbing them anything from $10 to $500 off their purchases, and the store was (and still is – they’re ongoing) full of opening deals, from dresses for $10 instead of $35, leopard print coats for $65 instead of $130, and, for the boys, corduroy jackets for $20 instead of $70. Little wonder people were taking advantage – a little bird told us that they took $300,000 on day one.

The biggest surprise of the day, though? The fact that nobody seemed too interested in the Lanvin for H&M collection. Not because there wasn’t any stock – the Vegas store was originally scheduled to open in November, so a batch had been reserved for its opening. And even at the VIP party held the night before (with showgirls, jugglers and a Lady Gaga lookalike doing the rounds), the Lanvin collection had been the only thing off limits. It was the last place in the world (not counting eBay, of course) where you could get your hands on it, and it was expected to sell out immediately.

But no, the collaboration that sold out in a flash in every other city sat on the rails for the whole of opening day. We even went back to check yesterday, and found plenty of stock left, and were told there was even more out the back. As one member of staff remarked to us, “It’s a bit high fashion, isn’t it? It’s very London, very New York, but it’s not very Vegas is it?”

Yes, we took full advantage.

- Julia Buckley



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