Those who visit Palm Springs, either by plane, train or car, find themselves on one of the most beautiful shopping streets in the nation. Thanks to the first city council woman, Ruth Hardy, Palm Canyon Drive is lined with native California Fan Palms that are illuminated with lights at the base of each tree.
The downtown shopping district is eight miles long, stretching from the city limits on the north to the point where the Palm Canyon Drive curves to the east. During the 1950s, some of the biggest names in fashion were featured in a collection of high-end shops scattered up and down Palm Canyon Drive. Big Los Angeles based fashion icons like J.W. Robinsons, Bullocks Wilshire, Saks Fifth Avenue, Haggarty’s and Desmond’s Department Store all carried a resort line of clothing that catered to a demographic quite like the shoppers in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach.
Barbara Foster at The Desert Inn in 1950.
A style, referred to as the “Palm Springs Label,” emerged incorporating the best of domestic and imported designs in women’s clothing all tailored to the desert’s climate. The term was coined in the September 1961 debut edition of Palm Springs Life’s fashion section. This style was like an invisible tag that defined the casual but elegant outfits found in many of the stores that graced Palm Canyon Drive. It became a term that was recognized throughout the West Coast fashion world.
There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 82 in 2020. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.
The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.
The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit pshistoricalsociety.org.