Palm Springs Film Fest: Trina Turk's Guide to Desert Chic

Trina Turk Headshot - H 2013

Trina Turk Headshot - H 2013

The colorful designer dishes on where to eat, shop and play in the sunny oasis.

Palm Springs and Trina Turk go hand-in-hand like Paris and Coco Chanel. Though the clothing designer and her husband, photographer and brand co-founder Jonathan Skow, consider Los Angeles their home base, Turk has long been heralded as the desert oasis’s unofficial ambassador. Perhaps it’s because the couple have been traveling there regularly since the early ’90s, when Skow, then a stylist, frequented the area on fashion shoots. Or maybe it's due to the fact her vivid, pattern-splashed pieces embody the town’s quirky mid-century aesthetic.

Drawn to the area’s signature architecture, the couple acquired a home there (named Ship of the Desert) in 1998, where they continue to enjoy spending weekends today. And in 2002, the neighborhood known today as the Uptown Design District became home to the first Trina Turk boutique (891 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-416-2856), which has expanded twice since its debut to carry the line in its entirety, including swimwear, women’s, Mr. Turk, and Trina Turk’s residential collection.  

“In some way we pioneered that neighborhood,” says Turk, noting the area’s uptick in galleries and vintage stores, and the accompanying foot traffic. So it’s no wonder that Turk has her finger on the pulse of all things Palm Springs despite her busy schedule, which includes the launch of her recreation and footwear lines this spring, and a recently opened Manhattan Beach boutique. Timed to coincide with the city’s celebrated film festival -- held through Jan. 13 -- Turk dishes on her favorite ways to enjoy Palm Springs, decked out in your top Trina Turk attire, natch.

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“If you’re into vintage modern furniture shopping or decorating your home, there are many places to go for that,” says Turk, who has filled her homes and her boutiques with finds from places including Modern Way (745 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-320-5455), where she scored her L.A. patio furniture, and Bon Vivant (766 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-534-3197), which specializes in decorative home accessories and has a great selection of men’s cuff links and women’s jewelry -- “usually with a modernist or crafty bent,” she says. In addition to buying beautiful top-of-counter mirrors here that can be found throughout her boutiques, Turk also turns to Bon Vivant’s bijou offerings as inspiration for hardware throughout her line. Also on her list? Studio One 11 (67-555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Ste A-103, Cathedral City, 760-328-2900), which she describes as “California craft-oriented” in terms of its art and sculptures.

It goes without saying that Turk also includes a handful of vintage clothing stores on her must list, such as The Deja Vu Room (664 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-321-6556), which radiates with Palm Springs kitsch appeal, Mr. Cox (106 S. Indian Canyon Drive, 760-898-6443) for more high-end pieces and great 1970s finds, and Route 66 (465 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-322-6669) for vintage costume jewelry. “The shopping is really interesting because it’s not chain stores; it's individual people with a point of view and they really curate what they have in their stores, so that’s what makes it really interesting,” she notes.

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"Some people don’t really think of hikes when you go to Palm Springs, but there are several you can go on,” she says. At this time of year, Turk favors Tahquitz Canyon -- which she refers to as more of a “walk with a gentle incline” — for its rock formations and the waterfall at the end, if it has rained lately. Ultimately, she says, when in Palm Springs, the goal is “to do nothing.”

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Located inside the brightly colored The Saguaro hotel (1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-323-1711), El Jefe is Turk’s go-to local Mexican spot (for the “excellent” fish tacos), and then there's the property’s Basque-influenced eatery, Tinto. The designer also frequents Cheeky’s (622 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-7595) for breakfast and lunch, drawn by its organic, farm-to-table fare (including a must-order steel-cut oatmeal served with berries) -- which was hard to find in town until the last few years, she notes -- in addition to neighboring pizza-centric Birba (622 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-5678) and Asian-influenced Jiao (515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-321-1424). Norma’s diner at The Parker Palm Springs (4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-321-4630) is also on Turk’s list of top spots for brunch, thanks in part to the lobster and mango salad.

A recent addition to town, Workshop Kitchen + Bar (800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-459-3451), is Turk’s go-to on a warm evening; she loves to soak up the courtyard atmosphere over the occasional order of fries. For cocktails, Turk favors “super old-school” Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn (200 W. Ramon Road, 760-325-2323). “It looks like it was decorated in the ’70s and most of the crowd was there in the ’70s,” she laughs. And if you’re in the know, skip Starbucks and grab your java at Koffi (multiple locations), just like the locals do.