The El Paseo Shopping District in Palm Desert, California has come a long way from where it started with some of fashion’s biggest high-end shops located along Palm Canyon Drive. Patrons could find the newest styles in stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, J.W. Robinson, Bullocks Wilshire, Haggerty’s and Desmond’s. These satellite stores often focused on styles that catered to a demographic such as the consumers in Newport Beach and Beverly Hills.
The fashion shows, back in the day, were not unlike the ones seen today. The socialites of Palm Springs would gather to see the latest fashions from designers that could have been in the fashion hall of fame including Dorothy Gray, Edith Morre and Bess Bender. Back then, the shows were held at the finest country clubs and hotels such as Shadow Mountain Country Club, the Oasis Hotel, the Riviera Hotel and El Mirador. Barbara Foster choreographed these fashion shows, for the most significant local charity events, for decades. Most of the models that Foster selected were local women but some were well-known including Carrie Craig and Barbara Sinatra. A particular style, known as the “Palm Springs Label”, emerged from these fashion shows. The style was a mix of domestic and imported designs for women. The line of clothing included sportswear, casual dresses, evening dresses and wraps all defined as casual but elegant. While consumers would not find a tag with the “Palm Springs Label” on it, the style became well-recognized throughout the fashion world.
As times changed, so did the beautiful shopping streets of Palm Springs. By the early 1970s, these quaint boutiques and stores were replaced by shopping malls. One by one, the stand-alone stores closed down and some of them moved to a new location in the shopping district of El Paseo in Palm Desert. Today, the area features a wide range of boutiques and stores featuring West Coast fashion that proves style doesn’t begin and end in Beverly Hills.