There is a unique, smug sense of satisfaction that comes when someone says, “I love that handbag, artwork, vase, (insert miscellaneous item) of yours,” and you get to respond, “Oh this? I picked it up in Paris/New York/a little place off the beaten track in Tibet.”
Because some of us love to show off the fact that we’ve travelled, darling (and our inner-jerk likes having some illusive item that others can’t readily access).
For many people, shopping can be a driving force when it comes to selecting a holiday destination — unearthing items that you’d never stumble across at home and feeling that you’re allowed to splurge because you’re on holiday is a beloved part of many people’s travel experience.
Asia is a popular shopping destination for many Aussies because it’s close and it’s cheap, but there’s a glam destination a little further afield that is something of an untapped resource if you love to bag a bargain on holiday.
A three-hour drive from Los Angeles is the greater Palm Springs area. It’s a sunny desert oasis that offers a heady mix of poolside cocktails, stunning natural beauty and some seriously good shopping.
As mentioned in our previous story, Palm Springs is considered the home of mid-century modern architecture after multiple Hollywood heavyweights built their holiday homes here in ’50s and ’60s.
A by-product of that is that if you’re a fan of that retro aesthetic, this area is full of authentic vintage pieces that you can snap up and lug home.
The thrift shops in the Greater Palm Springs area are considered something of a gold mine for fashion and furnishings, so make sure you set aside a reasonable amount of time to sift through those.
There is also the Palm Springs Vintage Market which is held on the first Sunday of the month at the Palm Springs Cultural Centre. It runs from October to May and is an amazing place to treasure hunt.
If retro fashion is your thing then The Fine Art of Design will blow your mind. It’s considered one of California’s best collections of vintage clothing and is curated by owner Nicolas Delgado, who has an incredible eye.
His store has become the place for impeccably dressed local women to offload unwanted designer pieces and they’re all beautifully displayed in his Palm Desert store.
When I was there, my friend landed a pair of Prada ballet flats for $80 Aussie dollars. She almost wept with joy.
Nicholas — who grew up in Palm Springs — has his own insider shopping tips for visitors.
“I love all the antique malls in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, and I love going
on vintage shopping day trips to the High Desert,” he says.
Vintage not your thing? Don’t despair. Palm Springs is also home to the biggest outlet mall we have ever clapped eyes on. The Desert Hills Premium Outlet has over 180 stores including a cracking outlet for Saks Fifth Avenue and high-end brands like Gucci, Prada and Armani.
According to our local friend, lots of people take a yearly holiday to Palm Springs and do an annual wardrobe upgrade at this mall. Just make sure you put a day aside to do it properly, otherwise you’ll get Shoppers Panic and nobody enjoys that.
Also note that the mall is 30 minutes out of Palm Springs on the way to LAX. A hot tip is to leave the outlet mall until the end of your trip and go on your way to the airport — they even offer a VIP limo service to the international terminal if you really want to treat yourself.
No trip to Palm Springs is complete without a visit to The Shops at Thirteen Forty-Five, in the uptown design district. Here you’ll find 14 little individual boutiques in one building, with everything from ceramics, to handcrafted jewellery, new and vintage furniture and decor and clothing.
Our favourites were Soukie Modern (which has an amazing collection of Moroccan rugs and wedding blankets, as well as bags made from vintage textiles), and Palm Springs Style, which is run by local style maven Katy Carrier. Her boutique is full of carefully selected pieces that ooze laid-back desert style. It’s the perfect place to find souvenirs that are super cool, not tacky.
Like Nicolas, Katy has a few local tips for enthusiastic shopaholics.
“For vintage clothing I love The Frippery in Palm Springs,” she says.
“For vintage furniture and decor there are so many amazing spots … a few favourites are Dazzles, Flow Modern (they also have great vintage jewellery), Spaces in Cathedral City, Bon Vivant for vintage glass and last but not least, Trina Turk and Mr Turk for Palm Springs-inspired fashion and housewares.”
Simone Mitchell travelled to Palm Springs as a guest of Greater Palm Springs.