Palm Springs: Shopping, MidCentury Style


Sleek modern home goods at Pelago Palm Springs

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to go shopping.”

-Bo Derek

The long break between my last Palm Springs post and this new one exists because I got unintentionally side tracked by that perpetual distraction called life.  For a minute I worried that too much time may have passed for the rest of my story to be of interest to anyone, but I soon came to my senses by remembering that Palm Springs is always a good idea, right?  So as my main man Snoop Dogg would say, back to the lecture at hand.

My aforementioned desert getaway, as all good things must, headed toward its inevitable end.  The thought of returning home after my too-short time with dear friends Chris and Michelle totally bummed me out.  Feeling prematurely weepy while enjoying the view from Chris’s patio the morning of our last day, I quickly recovered by suddenly remembered we would soon depart for a last activity together that never fails to elevate my mood:  shopping.

And not just any kind of shopping, people.  Shopping Palm Springs style. There are no malls in Palm Springs- you’d have to visit Palm Desert or Cabazon.  But why do that when Palm Springs can deliver what no other nearby zip code can:  a wide selection of midcentury focused specialty shops, brimming with both pristine vintage and new merchandise designed with modernist flair.  We exited Chris’s house into the blistering heat and excitedly embarked upon our retail tour.

How about a neon lamp from Palm Springs Style?

Our air conditioned drive down Palm Canyon Drive brought us first to The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five.  As Chris held the front door while Michelle and I entered, I was immediately reminded of my all-time favorite shopping destination in SoCal, Fred Segal.  For 50 + years, Fred Segal has provided LA residents with the hottest, most on trend, and unique merchandise a shopper could ever dream of.  The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five are similarly set up, with several small retailers all sharing the main building but maintaining separate identities, stores and company brands.  The three of us excitedly moved from one shop to the next, oohhhing and aahhing over all the goods.

Everything’s on-trend at Candice Held

Candice Held drew us in and sent us back to a time when big plastic sunglasses and colorful silk scarves were all the rage in high fashion.  Artfully laid out with Candice’s own unique designs, this boho-style maven’s paradise carries beautiful scarves, swimwear, tunics and accessories.  Particularly enticing was a rack of her original one-of-a-kind dress designs made from recycled vintage scarves.  Also impressive was the selection and excellent condition of vintage Ted Lapidus sunglasses.  Not sure how, but I managed to refrain from purchasing a pair to add to my collection (I’ve long been obsessed with sunglasses, especially vintage ones).

I’ll take one of each on display at Soukie Modern

Another newly discovered favorite is Soukie Modern, where style equals California meets Morocco and is all about exotic, rich textiles and colorful design.   The shelves house an array of pillows, bags and scarves while the walls are covered with plush rugs designed with amazing patterns and materials.  The shop transported us:  suddenly I was a genie in a bottle, trying to decide which dazzling magic carpet I loved best. Not only does the merchandise at Soukie Modern visually attract, the fabrics feel so incredible it’s nearly impossible to stop touching them.  Nonetheless, my harem and I forced ourselves to move on.

Vintage flower power pins steal the show at Dazzles

We took a short drive down to 1035 N. Palm Canyon Drive to appropriately named Dazzles, which did exactly that the minute we popped in: dazzled.  To say that the owners of this shop have a staggering amount of vintage merchandise, especially jewelry, is an understatement.  Their place is packed from floor to ceiling with everything you can think of:  wall art, mirrors, chairs, signage, lamps- I’m pretty sure I saw the exact same circular hanging daisy pendant light there that I spied in Megan Draper’s Laurel Canyon bungalow while watching MadMen.

Bowls of black ‘n blue at Pelago

After leaving Dazzles, we drove further down N. Palm Canyon and headed over to Mod Cafe for necessary and refreshing take out cups of cool iced tea.  Beverages in hand, we ducked into Pelago Palm Springs, whose location was previously home to a shop owned by none other than our esteemed host, J. Chris Mobley.  After Chris agreed to take on the position of Modernism Week CEO, he knew that successfully managing both his shop Just Modern and Palm Springs’ most important annual event at the same time would be nearly impossible. So the clever owners of Pelago, who conveniently happened to be his next door neighbors, luckily took over Chris’s space, employees and lease, leaving him free to focus on his exciting new role. We perused their impressive collection of new furniture, home goods, books and accessories.  I even finally broke down and bought myself a set of bangle bracelets, that wonderfully go with almost everything I wear.

Brand new retro home goods at Trina Turk
Trina Turk swim and resort wear for the modern fashionista

Right across the street from Pelago is Trina Turk’s very first store, which literally carries everything but the (1960s aqua porcelain) kitchen sink.  Trina’s fresh take on modern ready to wear is inspired by her love of vintage midcentury styling. The array of items seems endless:  women’s wear, men’s wear, books, barware- you name it, they have it.  We ventured further into the store toward the racks of sunny summer apparel.  Trina’s women’s line is designed with a colorful eye on the past but artfully cut out for the female physique of today.

Individualistic wearables pop out at Wil Stiles

Our last stop on N. Palm Canyon of the day was at Chris’s personal favorite apparel shop, Wil Stiles.  A dapper dresser with period-appropriate taste, Chris buys most of his attire for work and play at this popular men’s and women’s clothier.  Mixed in with Wil’s own label is an eclectic mix of other designs, creating a well rounded selection to choose from.  Midcentury style fans should head directly to Wil Stiles for an individualistic look and personalized attention from friendly staff members.  Pressed for time, we waved goodbye to our friends there, but not before vowing to return for an outfit at our earliest opportunity.

As we headed back to the Palm Canyon Estates to pack our bags for our upcoming flights home, the image of downtown Palm Springs disappeared into the background as the mountains grew closer and larger.  Later and onboard my flight, I smiled out the window in awe of the week’s worth of activities we miraculously crammed into 3 action packed days.  I refocused and opened my laptop, compelled to relive each moment of the wonderful experience before landing on cooler ground back home.  PS, I love you 🙂

©2018 Lisa Ihnken All Rights Reserved

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