LONDON — What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas — until now.
On Friday, Selfridges will kick off a Las Vegas-inspired extravaganza, complete with a little white wedding chapel, Liberace fashion exhibition, Elvis impersonator auditions — and fried peanut butter and jelly hors d’oeuvres.
Vegas Supernova, this year’s annual spring promotion at the Oxford Street store, celebrates 100 years of the neon-bright city in the desert, and runs until May 15.
The event is creative director Alannah Weston’s first major in-store promotion since she joined Selfridges a year ago — and she’s doing it her way.
“The store is going to be pumping full of energy, the glamour is going to be over the top, and it’s all going to have a 24-hour feel — and that’s very much in keeping with Selfridges,” said Weston, whose family owns Selfridges, Holt Renfrew in Canada and Brown Thomas in Dublin.
In addition to bringing in David LaChapelle to do the neon-bright, kitschy windows; production designer Michael Howells to create the wedding chapel and cocktail lounge set, and photographer Luca Pizzaroni to display his reportage photographs of Las Vegas, Weston also brought the focus back to the merchandise.
“It’s very fashion-oriented this year, and there’s glamour at all price points,” said Weston, who worked with about 30 of Selfridges’ brands to create special, limited-edition products. These include a metallic Paddington bag from Chloé (there’s already a waiting list); a metallic gold-fringed bag from Lanvin and snakeskin designs from Luella; Pringle poker chip T-shirts; a Burberry Prorsum metallic leather bomber jacket; Seven For All Mankind jeans adorned with Swarovski crystals, and Vegas showgirl-inspired dresses from Matthew Williamson and Alice Temperley.
The beauty floor will feature Skin Health Spa’s glamour girl treatments from Botox to BriteSmile tooth whitening, the Japanese cosmetic brand SK-II’s facials, as well as bronzers from companies including Bobbi Brown and Prescriptives. Yves Saint Laurent’s limited-edition Bayadere collection will be on sale with its sparkly lip glosses with names like Pure Diamond and Pink Quartz.
The store’s atrium will feature a giant cathedral structure made from neon lighting and visible from all floors. On a similarly spiritual note, the wedding chapel, also in the atrium, will offer blessings from Charlotte Richards, the woman who presided over the weddings of couples including Elvis and Priscilla Presley and Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.
Production designer Howells has created the ultralounge on Selfridges’ lower ground floor, where customers can see shows by the comedy duo Jarrett & Raja, play casino games (poker lessons are also on offer), quaff Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque and Kaufmann’s Vodka and snack on chocolate poker chips. For those in need of comfort food, Selfridges will be selling American culinary staples including Twinkies, Oreos, Marshmallow Fluff and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Vegas Supernova events include an Elvis impersonator contest and the first-ever exhibition of Liberace’s show garb outside the U.S. The eight outfits will be on display alongside the crooner’s Swarovski crystal-covered Roadster, which Selfridges also shipped in for the occasion.
Selfridges prides itself on capturing the fashion zeitgeist, and past annual events include Brasil 40°, Bodycraze, Bollywood and Tokyo Life. Last year, the store spent about $2.7 million on the Brasil event.
Weston said the store chose the theme both because of the city’s anniversary and because of the Vegas-like vibe in the air. “There was so much metallic and glitter on the runways last fall — at Dolce & Gabbana, Alice Temperley and Burberry. It really seemed like the right moment.”