The first thing I notice at the Paris is an amazing faux-iron verdigris awning meant to resemble Hector Guimard's Art Nouveau Métro station entrances, only here they tower over the slots, and instead of saying METROPOLITAIN they read 25 CENTS. The whole place, with its pretend cobblestoned streets and make-believe azure sky, feels like a Hollywood back lot, but who cares if it's about as French as the set of An American in Paris?For a lot of Americans that movie was France.
So, though I'm disappointed that the newsstand doesn't even have French Vogue (I mean, they could try), at my next stop, a place called Les Mémoires, I'm delighted to find an Eiffel Tower filled with bath salts, a miniature velvet boudoir pillow embroidered with OOH LA LA, and even a tiny bride doll with a Breton headdress. Now if only they had supplied her with a tiny slot machine—that would make the perfect Vegas souvenir.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: SHOPS OFF THE STRIP
Not all the conspicuous consumption in Vegas takes place in the shadows of the slot machines: when Meital Grantz opened Talulah G. in a louche downtown neighborhood six months ago, her shop was across from a strip club.
Nevertheless her boutique, specializing in avant-garde fashion labels like Martine Sitbon, was such a hit that she closed the original location and moved Talulah G (702/737-6000) to the Fashion Show mall. Asked what downtown Vegas spots she recommends, Grantz confides that the Attic (1018 S. Main St.; 702/388-4088), which sells stylish secondhand clothes and psychedelic housewares, is a favorite.
Over at Las Vegas Life magazine, managing editor Amy Schmidt says she can't get enough of Unicahome (7540 S. Industrial Rd., Suite 501; 702/616-9280), where the owners are experts on modern furniture and accessories: Alessi kitchen gadgets, Egon Eiermann chairs, bookends designed by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. In the funky Neonopolis shopping center (450 Fremont St.), Schmidt likes Zinc (Suite 117; 702/385-0096) for whimsical items—picture frames, lighting fixtures—you won't find anywhere else. Out in Summerlin, about 20 minutes from the Strip, the Village Square Shopping Center features Suite 160 (9350 W. Sahara Ave.; 702/562-6136), with limited-edition Nike and Adidas sneakers; and Musette (9420 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 102; 702/309-6873), which stocks its shelves with Seven Jeans and Juicy Couture.
If you're intent on Vegas-themed knickknacks, consider a visit to either Serge's Showgirl Wigs (953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite A-2; 702/732-1015) or the Gamblers Book Shop (630 S. 11th St.; 702/382-7555). At the former, it's possible to turn yourself—at least from the neck up—into Elvis or Cher; at the latter, you can buy the ultimate Vegas keepsake, a copy of Blackjack Confidential, for just $15.