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Mall guide: Fashion Island

November 24, 2011|From the Los Angeles Times
  • Cars line up for valet parking at Nordstrom Fashion Island.
Cars line up for valet parking at Nordstrom Fashion Island. (FILE PHOTO, Daily…)

Location: 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Known for: "Overlooking the ocean, Fashion Island offers distinctive shopping and dining in a coastal resort setting." That's what it says on its website; that's reason enough to go. Situated on 75 acres on a slope above the Pacific, the center attracts more than 13 million people a year to its mix of indoor and outdoor shopping and dining facilities. It boasts dancing fountains, flower-filled courtyards, peek-a-boo views of the ocean and possibly the best piped-in music I've ever heard in a mall.

What you'll find: Orange County's only Neiman Marcus, along with Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Bloomingdale's Home Store and Macy's. Fashion Island has almost completed a $100-million face-lift, adding more than a dozen new stores and restaurants this year. The newcomers include Ella Moss, Earnest Sewn, Vince, Jack Spade, Roberto Coin for Traditional Jewelers, Sperry Top-Sider, Athleta, Vineyard Vines, Quiksilver Waterman Collection, Drybar, the Newport Colony Co., Carrol Boyes, Uno del 50 and Johnny Was. The Apple store has expanded too. Additional stores set to open during the holiday season include Rebecca Taylor, Kitson, Tesla and Casey's Cupcakes, the bakery owned by former "Laguna Beach: The Real O.C." cast member Casey Reinhardt, who won Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" this year. Coming in December: the Island Cinema, an upscale movie house for grown-ups, serving gourmet food, specialty coffees, beer, wine and champagne.

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Vibe: Ladies who lunch (and, apparently, spend a lot of time getting tanned, toned, tucked and tightened); adorable dogs strolling on leashes or watching the world go by from sidewalk cafes. While South Coast Plaza has an aura of the nouveau riche and a reputation for attracting shopping tourists, Fashion Island is the laid-back, more elegant, old-school aristocrat. The crowd strolling in the courtyards on a recent weekday included Muslim women in fashionable Western dress and head scarves, two men animatedly gabbing in German, a svelte fortysomething blond (or maybe sixtysomething — see toning and tucking reference above) heading for a blow-out at Drybar, a middle-aged couple pushing their puppy in a stroller, and a shorts-clad young father showing his toddler the Iris Fountain, with its choreographed waves and jets of water.

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