Who needs the sun when you are in the presence of Trina Turk, the reigning queen of Palm Springs style? Over lunch one day, I asked Trina a few questions about color, architecture, and Caesar salad. We' re so lucky that she shared her recipe with us!
Photography by Brandon Harman + Recipe by Trina Turk
When I first moved to Palm Springs, I had many goals, and one of them was meeting Trina Turk. To me, she is the queen of Palm Springs style, with her colorful, easy, and chic fashions and home goods. I was lucky enough to meet her at a party, and she is the sweetest person ever. Her Palm Springs house is famous for being one of the only Art Deco houses in the area, so I imagine how happy I was when I got an invite to see it for myself—and to taste her famous Caesar salad.
Sweet Paul: For me, the brand
and the person Trina Turk is the embodiment of Palm Springs style. Colors, easy, patterns, fun. How did the brand Trina Turk happen?
Trina Turk: I had worked as a designer for mostly junior apparel companies for 12 years prior to starting Trina Turk. I had been thinking about starting my own company for a while. In 1995, I finally took the plunge. At that time, the
L.A. market became known for new “contemporary” brands, and I wanted to try my hand at entrepreneurship. My main motivations were to work for myself and design something I’d want to wear, using better quality fabrications. I wish I could say I had the whole print/color/Palm Springs thing all planned out in advance, but I didn’t—it just evolved.
SP: Were you always drawn to patterns and colors?
TT: I grew up in California in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a very colorful time both in fashion and interiors. I must have absorbed that aesthetic without realizing it. In the mid-1980s, I was a designer at OP—Ocean Pacific—the surfwear company. It was there that I learned all about printed textiles and fell in love with the process. Remember those airbrushed Bird of Paradise prints?
SP: For anyone who is unfamiliar with Palm Springs, can you explain what Palm Springs and its style mean to you?
TT: Palm Springs is a desert resort about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. It’s known for its midcentury modern architecture, dramatic vistas of the mountains, and fresh desert air. It’s a place where it feels perfectly natural to wear bright print and color, perhaps poolside with a cocktail in hand. The style of Palm Springs, particularly from the late 1960s and 1970s, has been a constant inspiration
for the Trina Turk and Mr Turk brands. The famous photograph “Poolside Gossip” by Slim Aarons, photographed at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann house, was on the mood board when we started the company.
SP: Tell me about your amazing house.
TT: It’s a 1936 Streamline Moderne style home situated at the base of the San Jacinto mountains. It was designed by Erle Webster and Adrian Wilson, inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat House. It was on the cover of Sunset magazine in 1937, and in that article, the house was named the “The Ship of the Desert.” It’s definitely a precursor to the type of midcentury home that became associated with Palm Springs— expanses of glass looking out onto a pool, an open plan, an indoor/outdoor feel. The home appears larger than it is, since it’s only one room wide. All of the larger rooms have windows on two or three sides, and three upstairs bedrooms can only be accessed from the exterior deck. Each of the bedrooms has its own adjoining bathroom, like a stateroom on a ship.
SP: Palm Springs has always been a playground for Hollywood glitterati. Has anyone famous stayed at your house?
TT: The most famous guest here was Judy Garland. Rumor has it, she stayed here while having an affair with the lyricist (and neighbor) Johnny Mercer. Other stars from Hollywood’s golden age who had homes in the Mesa neighborhood include Joseph Cotton, Esther Williams, Jack Warner, and Victor Mature. More recent residents include Sonny and Cher, and Barry Manilow.
SP: Your Caesar salad is quite famous. How did you become the Caesar queen?
TT: I worked at a restaurant when I was in college where the waitstaff made Caesar salads tableside. I learned to make them fast and to suit the customer’s taste.
[SP: It is a truly amazing salad, fresh and delicious. I love the addition of lemon zest.]
SP: All-time favorite food?
TT: I love Japanese white rice—my mom is Japanese, so that’s my comfort food.
SP: Any guilty food pleasures? (Mine is Del Taco’s cheesecake bites.)
TT: I eat bittersweet chocolate almost every day, and I don’t feel guilty about it!
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 to 4 anchovy fillets (I prefer the kind that comes in tiny glass jars like, Ortiz)
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
olive oil—3 generous figure eights into the bowl
red wine vinegar— 1 figure eight
Worcestershire sauce—1 or 2 good shakes
grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper to taste—add as you toss the salad
- Put the first 4 ingredients into a wooden salad bowl, and mash them together with a fork to make a paste. This is the tableside way. You can also throw everything (including the ingredients below) in a blender, but still chop the garlic before you put it in the blender.
- This recipe makes enough dressing for 2 generous handfuls of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces. You could also add a little salt, but the anchovies and Parmesan are salty, so I usually don’t.
- Toss all well together, and serve with bread croutons.
Made it? Tell us about it–