Modernism Week kicks offs this week in Palm Springs and it’s time to get sucked into a rabbit hole of midcentury magic, Trina Turk textiles and desert decadence. One woman who perfectly embodies that postcard Palm Springs aesthetic is the colorful and charming Kelly Golightly. Before the madness descends on her chosen oasis, we asked Kelly to discuss her unique career and how she managed to be way ahead of her time.
Kelly, you were influencing style before “Influencers” became fashionable. What inspired you to share your style philosophies with the public?
Kelly Golightly: Thank you, so kind of you to say! Audrey Hepburn and Slim Aarons spoke to me much more than the current trends of today that were prominently featured in magazines and other blogs, and there was nowhere to go for someone who craved that aesthetic of timeless glamour. So I created the destination myself with Kelly Golighty, an homage to Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
You’ve clearly mastered social media and have a devoted following. But before Instagram and Facebook were options, how did you get your message out?
KG: Blogging on KellyGolightly.com. While I love the visual and community aspects of Instagram and it has helped me reach a wider audience, the blog is where it all began and is still the hub for everything. It’s where I can share the full story, rather than just a peek. My background is as a writer, which is what lead me to blogging to begin with—and I still love getting to share whatever whenever I want. It’s hard to imagine a world now without Instagram and Facebook, but we’ve seen platforms come and go (remember Vine, anyone?), so it’s also essential.
Was there a singular moment in the early days of your career where you thought, “Yes, this could really be something special”?
KG: When a producer from The Martha Stewart Show called and invited me to appear on a segment sharing style tips with Martha herself. Blogging can be very solitary and you can often forget that people are actually reading what you are writing. To know that people I admired were paying attention was very special.
Tell us about your professional partnership with photographer Fred Baby…how is it working with your spouse?
KG: Incredible! Even though I’ve enjoyed and still enjoy working with so many different creatives and photographers, there’s no one else I’d rather spend my time with. That we get to do something we love together is such a gift. And we’ve definitely made one another better.
In the beginning, it started very simply with outfit photos. I saw that blogging was going the direction of needing to share photos of yourself and Fred Baby always enjoyed photography as a hobby. So we gave it a shot.
We would bicker in the very beginning because I wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera and would be looking for feedback from him as I posed awkwardly in the middle of the street. Yet, he would be dead silent and confess, “I’m not even looking at you; I’m trying to get the settings right.” It’s so funny to think of now, and amazing to see how much we’ve grown since then and all of the incredible opportunities that we’ve been afforded by taking a chance.
The highlight for us both was getting to shoot Poolside Reunion, the 45th anniversary reunion of Slim Aaron’s Poolside Gossip, with the original ladies at the Kaufmann House. Dream come true.
What is it about Palm Springs that makes it your “happy place”?
KG: The weather, the midcentury architecture, the poolside cocktail culture, the vintage shopping, the community of friendly, sophisticated people who love those things just as much as I do. Being able to pop into the pool on a lunch break. You literally can live in a Slim Aaron’s photo.
Palm Springs is clearly a “hot” spot right now. Do you worry the recently renewed interest could take away from its charm, or is the more the merrier?
KG: The optimist in me says the more the merrier. That said, as someone who appreciates timeless glamour and the special time capsule that Palm Springs is, I’m very aware of new buildings going up and the increase in visitors. I trust that the city will do the right thing to keep Palm Springs the jewel that she is.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Modernism Week?
KG: Catching up with friends, new and old, who will be in town for Modernism Week! I think my enthusiasm for Palm Springs and Modernism Week has rubbed off over the years, so I’m excited to experience it with them.
Last year, we had the honor of having our house being the Modernism Week Show House, which was bananas. It was like having a home renovation and wedding at the same time (because our house was literally renovated in less than three months and then 5,000+ people came through it on house tours and parties). While we’re extremely grateful for that experience, we’re looking forward to taking things a bit easier this time around.
I’m excited for the star dedication of Nelda Linsk (of Poolside Gossip and Poolside Reunion), as well as all of the amazing house tours. Can’t wait to get inspired by all of the great design and snap some photos!
Where are we most likely to find you when the spring season officially kicks off in town?
KG: In my pool floating on my beloved #SwannieGolightlyl! Although we have a new fur baby, @odeegolightly, so it may be less swanning this season and more teaching her how to swim.
Get schooled and celebrate local traditions at the same time.
California’s coast just got even more amazing.