UNLV students are exploring the history of Las Vegas through fashion. They've curated a new exhibit called "Vegas Style" at the Nevada State Museum, and we'll join them in looking back through the decades at the clothing of flashier times.
Alex Hutchings, curator
Deirdra Clemente, UNLV historian
Pink Evening Dress: The 1970s saw diaphanous, free-flowing maxi dresses replace the structured formalwear of previous decades. Formal style could be comfortable and fashionable, as demonstrated by this fuchsia chiffon evening gown. Owned by Judy Bayley, Las Vegas’ first female casino owner, it features a heavily embellished neckline and cuffs that catch the eye and provide definition for the airy body of the gown.
Detail from sleeve of pink dress.
Liberace Ensemble: This eggplant-colored ensemble represents the extravagance and showmanship of Las Vegas headliner, Liberace. Proving that looks can be deceiving, the outfit is actually a jumpsuit, paired with a dicky and jacket. Liberace's shows featured several different costumes and a one-piece suit that looked like it had various components allowed for fast and easy changes. The Liberace Foundation has been an important partner in the exhibition, loaning both this hand-beaded costume and a custom-made, rhinestone encrusted piano.
Inspired by the clothing of working cowboys, costumes worn during Helldorado Days took hats, chaps, shirts, and boots and embellished them with embroidery, rhinestones, and fringe to create the perfect union of function and fashion. Initially used as a way to repel rainwater from clothing, fringe became an important decorative element of western wear. The use of fringe on these kulat pants provides a decorative detail while drawing the eye to the leg and highlighting the movement of the wearer.