Whether you’re looking to thrift mid-century modern or get your hands on vintage Versace, Palm Springs has you covered.
Palm Springs has come to be known as an oasis for the rich and famous, especially when it comes to the Hollywood elites who have long considered the town their L.A. escape—they’ve been chilling out in the desert since the days of the Rat Pack. It’s also a haven for retirees who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living and enjoy the pleasures of the area’s famously laidback vibe.
Often, when the rich and famous get rid of their clothing, jewelry, shoes, and furniture, and when these retirees downsize and ditch the contents of their closets and attics in Greater Palm Springs, their belongings end up in a local resale shop. In Palm Springs, shoppers have their pick of exclusive high-end consignment shops that specialize in designers like Pucci, to bargain thrift stores where you can find gems hidden in plain sight. And with the region’s mid-century modern aesthetic, shoppers can go wild searching for vintage and period items.
For anyone who wants to find a caftan to wear by the pool, an authentic Hawaiian shirt to don for downing mai tais, or a smart hat to wear while sipping martinis in a bar Frank Sinatra once frequented, one of Palm Springs’ numerous vintage shops is sure to have you covered.
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When you enter Iconic Atomic, one of the area’s better known and more popular vintage shops, it’s hard to know where to look first because there are so many colorful items vying for your attention. A model’s dummy festooned with bright brooches, a rack of Hawaiian shirts in every hue, a wall full of outrageous men’s ties, shelves of period glasses and dishes in every shade imaginable: Owner Cat Slater is just as colorful as her store. On one visit to her shop, she is seen wearing a vintage Hawaiian dress, made in Honolulu in the ‘70s, her wrists adorned with bakelite bracelets and drop glitter ball earrings dangling from her ears.
“If you are into vintage architecture, vintage cars, chances are you also play vintage.”
Slater, who lives in L.A. and works in the film industry, didn’t set out to own a vintage shop. She used to sell items at tiki events, more as a hobby than anything else, when a friend approached her to open a shop together. She dismissed the idea at first, but when another friend who lived in Palm Springs also expressed interest, she made the leap. The three went into business together, but eventually, the other two left to pursue different things. Now Slater is the sole proprietor of Iconic and is happy to explain the fascination with all things vintage and Palm Springs.
“You are in where there’s the most consolidated mid-century modern architecture,” says Slater. “If you are into vintage architecture, vintage cars, chances are you also play vintage. We’re known for it. This is part and parcel of it.”
Fine Art of Design
At The Fine Art of Design in Palm Desert, owner Nicolas Delgado’s shop is a tempting collection of beyond gorgeous designer dresses, hats, and jewelry, with a strong focus on items from the 1960s through the 1990s. Delgado says 90% of his items come from locals, who love to consign their chic clothes with him, giving them a second chance at life. While Delgado says he hates to see polyester come in, he loves to see silk and Edwardian cotton, especially silk slips from the 1920s and ‘30s
“And because of the Palm Springs culture, in the last couple of years, caftans have really been popular,” says Delgado. “Those do really well because of the environment we live in and because they are so inclusive in their sizing. The only new clothing I carry are two caftan designers, Monica Mahoney and Sheri Johnson of California Caftans.”
For those who are looking to really glam it up, Mitchell’s in Palm Springs should be on your shopping radar. Owner Mitchel Karp specializes in clothing by designers, like Pucci, Gaultier, and Versace. In addition to selling fabulous clothing, he also loves to put on fashion shows during Modernism Week for the community as a way to give back, with much of the proceeds donated to charity.
Dazzles and Revivals Palm Springs
Two other not-to-miss shops in Greater Palm Springs are Dazzles, a rainbow-colored cornucopia of vintage jewelry, barware, glasses, and home décor, and Revivals Palm Springs, the place to go if you are a dedicated thrift store shopper. There are several locations of Revivals in Greater Palm Springs, and these stores are where patient shoppers can find vintage items just as special as in the high-end shops with a bit of luck and time.