Nicolas Delgado, owner of The Fine Art of Design.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDON HARMAN
As revelers in other locales hunker down for a long, chilly winter, party animals in Greater Palm Springs celebrate a nightlife scene that’s just heating up. From Palm Springs International Film Festival soirées to glimmering Modernism Week discos, residents and visitors enjoy a packed social calendar that extends well into spring. And every great party, of course, requires a great outfit.
To help you put together the perfect ensemble, five of the valley’s most stylish boutique owners offer their expert take on this season’s trends.
Tired of investing in party dresses that only see the light of day on one occasion? So is Rancho Relaxo owner Stella Adena. The retail veteran solves event-dressing dilemmas with airy, scarf-inspired kimonos (available at her shops in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert).
“It’s worn as a light-weight jacket, a layering piece,” Adena explains. “A caftan can be a lot of commitment, but these featherweight kimonos can be worn over a slip dress.” In-shop brands such as Arrata and Pool to Party offer eye-catching patterns and details like beads and embroidery to elevate your LBD — and liven up your leggings-and-tank-top brunch look.
“As long as you sparkle and you’re glammed, anything goes,” says fashion designer Kelly Gray, who launched Grayse on El Paseo in Palm Desert with her mother, Marie, after serving for years as the face of St. John, the luxury knitwear brand that her family founded and sold. “You could be wearing a black T-shirt dress with a chain belt around your neck — for a big piece of glamorous, unique jewelry — and a pair of lashes, and [you’d] be black tie without even trying.”
With that adage in mind, Gray recommends keeping things comfortable. “I’m liking everything a half-size loose to allow for movement and to let the night go where it’s going to go,” she notes. “One of my clients uses the word ‘bounce.’ She says, ‘I want to go to this event, but I want to be able to bounce.’ ”
Count on jewelry designer Adrienne Wiley to be well-accessorized — the boutique owner draws on Covet Boutique’s inventory of baubles and bags when styling outfits for formal events. “I have a lot of midcentury inspired, burst-shaped earrings,” Wiley says. The star-like jewels add sparkle as they nod toward the valley’s most iconic architectural era. To that, Wiley might add a vibrant hand-beaded clutch.
When it comes to gala-ready dresses, however, Wiley turns to one of her favorite Palm Springs businesses: The Frippery, a local mecca for thoughtfully curated secondhand fashion. The jeweler suggests letting your frock guide your accessory choices. If you’re rocking a bold print, perhaps skip a necklace entirely. Simpler dresses invite extra gems. “If it’s plunging, you can do a long statement necklace,” Wiley says. “If it’s a scoop neck or strapless, keep the necklaces a little shorter.”
Start streamlining your night-out survival kit now. According to Prism Boutique owner Dayna Mance, “small bags are very in, and [they] can be an art piece on your arm. The bag makes the outfit.”
For a cohesive event ensemble, Mance recommends matching your shoes to your statement purse. Clogs and open-toed platforms are especially on-trend at the moment and play best with ankle-baring midi dresses. Sprinkle on a final touch of shimmer with dainty layering jewelry, available at Prism’s outposts at Mojave Flea Trading Post in Palm Springs and Yucca Valley, and at Prism’s flagship in Long Beach. “I’d probably wear at least three gold necklaces,” Mance says. “Maybe some charms.”
THE FINE ART OF DESIGN
There’s no buyer’s remorse for Nicolas Delgado. As the founder of Palm Desert vintage destination The Fine Art of Design, Delgado happily sources dreamy designs from the 20th century in his own size, secure in knowing that they may end up in a client’s closet someday.
When it comes to events, Delgado embraces trends while leaning into the theme. At swanky Modernism Week parties, for example, he might tuck a billowy button-up into a wide-legged trouser and toss a double-breasted blazer on top. “What’s in right now is the 1990s [doing] the ’40s,” he says. “It’s a very loose-fitted suit look.”