It’s an exciting moment when the shopping stars align and you find a truly special piece of vintage clothing that also happens to look great on you (or at least is in a size close enough to permit a little tailoring magic). So what if we told you that there was a place in the desert where you are virtually guaranteed to find the kind of vintage that dreams are made of? Well there is, and this place is called The Fine Art of Design, where owner Nicolas Delgado has curated a collection of top-notch vintage apparel and accessories housed in a charming mid-century modern building in Palm Desert.
Nicolas, or Nicky as his friends call him, was only 23 when he opened the boutique, having recently graduated from Parsons The New School for Design in New York and returning back to the Coachella Valley. Nicky was perhaps destined for a life of entrepreneurship: his parents own multiple restaurants in the area, including Las Casuelas Nuevas in Rancho Mirage and they co-own Casuelas Café and Cork Tree in Palm Desert; Nicky’s grandparents opened the original Las Casuelas restaurant in downtown Palm Springs over fifty years ago; his aunt owns Las Casuelas Terraza in downtown Palm Springs; his uncle owns Las Casuelas Quinta in La Quinta; and his cousin Patrick Service recently opened the popular Appetito Cal-Italian Deli in Palm Springs adjacent to the Ace Hotel. Nicky’s father says he always knew his son would own a store, and after just over three years in business, that store is going strong and has become a beloved fixture in the area for both locals and visitors from around the country and the world. Even the most discriminating clientele of stylists and professional buyers are major fans, and the store was recently included in Elle Magazine’s list of the best vintage clothing stores in the country, alongside names like Shareen Vintage in Los Angeles.
Nicky credits much of his success to his right hand gal, Luisa Marielli, a friend dating back to elementary school years whose eye for fashion and talent for styling have become integral components of The Fine Art of Design. Luisa possesses a well-honed talent for helping customers find the right pieces and styling them to perfection, says Nicky, whether for a specific event or just finding must-have items for any stylish closest. The duo’s passion for vintage fashion and accessories is coupled with a commitment to sustainability through the reuse and reworking of vintage items. Part of that commitment includes ensuring that the clothes being sold by The Fine Art of Design will continue to stand the test of time, and much of the shop’s wares are sent to specialists for repairs, cleaning and when necessary, redesigns, prior to hitting the shop floor to ensure that they are in great condition for their new owners.
There’s no digging necessary here; everything is well-organized and sorted by either color or era, depending on when you happen to drop in. The shop’s inventory is diverse, with dresses and separates from the 1920s through the 1990s and a large collection of vintage hats, jewelry and shoes. We are particularly smitten by the Chanel pieces and the great collection of 1970s dresses. One unique facet to the store is the large inventory of vintage tennis attire and racquets, with a portion of the sales of those items going to a charity that helps fund tennis lessons for underprivileged children.
When asked to share some of his favorite designers over the decades, Nicky’s list included:
1950s: Christian Dior
1960s: Yves Saint Laurent
1980s: Azzedine Alaïa
1990s: Todd Oldham
For current fashion inspiration, Nicky cites Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel supermarket fashion show during Paris Fashion Week and Armani Privé, and he is constantly searching for new sources of creativity and innovation in not just fashion, but also interior design, art, photography and cinema.