Billy Fong Sez …

Palm Springs Adventure

Billy Fong  |  Photos by Slim Aarons’ "Poolside Gossip," 1970. Photo © Slim Aarons., Ace Hotel, Marc Jacob wellies, Ray-Bans
November 25, 2013

I was having a Pooh moment. In fact, I’ve created a nifty new game where you must choose which of the classic characters from the Hundred Acre Wood best resembles your demeanor. (BTW, Hundred Acre Wood? Great name for a gay porn film.) So, as summer drew to a close, I was feeling very Eeyore. To remedy my “woe is me” attitude, I thought a vacation was a dire necessity. I rang up my dearest girl friend, Beth McCall, and we decided to rendezvous in the glamorous part of the desert — Palm Springs. A few Dallas gals keep chic mid-century-modern second homes there, but I won’t name names since they don’t need a barrage of inquiries for invites.

What is a trip to Palm Springs without a pit stop first in Los Angeles? I lived on the Left Coast in my 20s and still have oodles of friends with hillside homes (the spoils that working in reality television can bring). I always try to adhere to the rule that one should never shop at stores in your own backyard when traveling. First on my list was Barneys. I desperately miss our Barneys since it departed NorthPark last spring. (I had hoped that Todd Fiscus could have staged a fitting memorial service to commemorate its passing!) Next stops were Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood (BTW, her only U.S. outpost) and finally Fred Segal.

After scoring a new pair of wellies from Mr. Jacobs and a pocket square with the iconic Saturn/crown print from Miss Westwood, I was ready for my journey through the desert. The weather was gorge, so I reserved a convertible. For my travel ensemble, I opted for a chic pair of white Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses; white Thom Brown shorts (I had them shortened even more — verging on Daisy Dukes, but still conservative enough for lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel); vintage white T-shirt featuring Black Flag (seminal ’80s punk-rock band; the black vertical bars seemed very much like offerings from Marc Jacobs spring runway shows); and a nylon Prada blazer, circa 1998, with a Lanvin flower pin on the lapel. My updated version of Lawrence of Arabia.

After some research on Palm Springs accommodations, we decided on the Ace Hotel. I had stayed there once before when a dear friend threw her 40th birthday party in the desert and rented out Christina Onassis’ former home (interesting trivia: it has the largest private pool in the city). The Ace always makes me feel 10 (maybe 20) years younger. During season, you are likely to see a band such as Vampire Weekend or Block Party checking in, rocking lots of facial hair and wearing ponchos — all tragically thin. DJs spin by the pool, and guests are wearing everything from vintage Halston one-piece bathing suits with gold, strappy heels to a caftan with a walking stick. (Yes, the Ace provides a walking stick in your room for hiking the adjacent mountain trails — or if you decide to make the mother ship of outlets, which has a YSL and Marni.)

I saved my biggest score for last: a brilliant caftan that Miss McCall got me on a recent trip to Dubai. Perfection. I’ve never felt so glamorous as I did when I slipped it on — very Yves Saint Laurent. As winter approaches, plan for a Left Coast adventure and be sure Palm Springs is part of your itinerary. If you indulge yourself with a few too many California wines, at least Betty Ford is around the corner. Perhaps you will run in to a celebrity or two drying out — maybe even Tigger, since I hear an intervention is about to take place in the Hundred Acre Wood.