There was a roller derby convention in town, and the Arts Factory was swarming with women on skates. They had arrived fresh from the rink at the Riveria in their helmets and elbow pads and had staked their claim on the entire complex. I had brought my friend Melissa there to enjoy my new favorite band, My First Rodeo, but instead we found ourselves bouncing off rolling beauties as they darted in and out of doorways. Body paint was being applied over tattooed flesh and estrogen was thick in the air. We were settling in at the bar when we were invited by a striking woman wearing beautiful jewelry to come check out her shop. She introduced herself as Caroline, owner of the Widow Den Boutique, and after we finished sipping our fleur de 75’s, we followed her up to the second floor.
As we rounded the corner at the top of the stairs, we came upon her Den, tightly furled amongst the inner chambers of the gallery space.
It was charming, feminine and inviting. Upon further investigation, it revealed a darker edge that added a depth that was not lost on us. We were ensnared immediately.
Caroline explained that she had been designing jewelry that had sold at First Friday for several years and had recently come across the opportunity to open a boutique in a space that had once been an art gallery. As an artist and a lover of fashion, she knew that she could create something that could attract a special type of client. “Today, everyone wants to be completely unique. I offer one of a kind, handcrafted jewelry and accessories and unique labels that definitely cater towards underground Las Vegas subcultures; Girly Goth, Prissy Punk, Bohemian Beauty, etc., but I also carry young miss contemporary fashions for the general public.”
A fashionable woman living in Las Vegas may find herself stepping into any of these roles at one point or another either for a specific social event, or just for a fun night of playing dress-up. It was time to let the fun begin.
Melissa and I have been friends forever. We have shared dressing rooms and stages all over Las Vegas, and she currently tours with a burlesque troupe. I always tell her she should be a stand-up comedian; she is one of the funniest, most energetic, outgoing women I know. Caroline picked up on this right away, and within minutes, had the dressing room filled with pieces that suited her perfectly.
The first outfit she tried was a skater dress with zig-zag pattern and a sheer black back. Melissa has an outer layer of sweet, southern innocence that can be extremely endearing, and this complemented her without being overly frilly. We decided she needed to be spiced up a bit with a skinny red faux leather belt.
Next she tried on a striped tank with cut-outs in the back with a knit red peplum skirt that hugged her curves. She was a knockout in this one. Besides being ultra chic, it was extremely flattering and I could see that Melissa was happy. She had that glow that you sometimes get when you try on something perfect.
The female black widow can be distinguished by a red hour-glass shaped marking on its abdomen. I was familiar with the image, having encountered several in my backyard lately. Las Vegas becomes infested with them at this time of year, and their webs stretch across everything.
I gazed at Melissa’s hourglass shape and thought to ask Caroline how she had come up with the name for her boutique.
“I knew I wanted a figure to represent a confident, strong, bad-ass woman, but also stand as a representation of Las Vegas,” she explained. “I often run through these webs tightly secured from the shrubs to the concrete and think, one of these days one of those widows is gonna just take a bite outta me. Then, it hit me… I thought Widow Den was a perfect name to represent my store.”
The transformation was completed with a faux leather peplum top paired with cut-out leggings and a handcrafted rosary necklace designed by Caroline. Melissa couldn’t have looked more bad-ass. At this point she could’ve given any of the roller derby babes a run for their money. In fact, a few of them had rolled by and given their approval.
While Caroline prepared Melissa’s purchases, we looked around a little more and continued to discover interesting things. We saw vintage inspired accessories, eclectic home goods, and festival wear with coordinating handmade blankets, mostly designed by her. “I’ve immersed myself in Las Vegas’ art scene and it’s definitely inspired my recent works. If I only wanted to sell others fashion, it may not be the right location, but for me, it’s where I belong,” she said.
Please do pay a visit to Caroline at her Widow Den Boutique, but prepared to be ensnared.