Blog created in partnership with the Meet the Mentor Program. Meera Sahney visited Greater Palm Springs in October and shared her experiences below.
When one steps into Aneka Brown Designs’ boutique within the spa of Hotel Paseo, situated in Palm Desert, visitors will be captivated by an ambiance exuding California AfroChic. This expression not only celebrates individual identity but also mirrors the desert's profound influence on how intersectional communities have crossed over into one another through the medium of art.
Aneka Brown's Background
Brown’s connection to Palm Springs dates back to 1978 and her journey was largely inspired by her father, a visionary in architectural and interior design. Her father’s artistic influence has left an indelible mark on Greater Palm Springs, from designing the interior of the popular restaurant Lulu in Palm Springs to the iconic Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Her father’s creative work in the region influenced Brown’s trajectory and legacy. Through her designs, she weaves a tapestry of artistry, drawing upon this generational art, as well as her unique perspective, forever altering the landscape of this SoCal oasis.
A Vision of Inclusivity
Brown’s artistic vision embodies a profound commitment to inclusivity, transcending conventional fashion boundaries related to age, gender, and body type. In her work, inclusivity isn't just a driving force; it's a guiding principle. The vibrant designer's fashion shows have consistently showcased a diverse range of models, reflecting the rich tapestry of Greater Palm Springs. From sizes 0 to 30 and ranging from teenagers to seniors, Brown's designs empower individuals of all backgrounds. Her creations mirror the ideology of embracing one's natural and authentic self, which extends to what we wear and how we feel.
In her collection, the Kimono Kaftans embody so much more than a representation of her AfroChic style; they are a symbol of life’s remarkable resilience. On social media, microtrends from minimalism to quiet luxury to fast fashion have been the norm, but the Kimono Kaftans Collection seeks to defy these trends through stay colorful, inclusive, and timeless design. Each piece reflects the individual who wears it.
In Greater Palm Springs, flowers have long been the symbol of life and resilience, both historically and today. Brown doesn’t only show this metaphor on the surface level but truly embodies the manifestation of unbridled joy that nature represents. The custom kaftans, made from silk, are long robe-style pieces that envelop you, hold you, and enhance what you are already wearing. The colors and patterns are inspired by the idea of growth, from sunsets in Senegal to the Coasts in Cameroon. They can be worn casually or dressed up, seen everywhere from the pool to drinks on the rooftop. In a landscape characterized by aridity and desolation, the vibrant, flourishing flowers of Brown’s Kaftans persist, mirroring her infectious personality.
There was a time when Brown certainly knew, following her battle with a severe respiratory illness. Not only did she survive, she thrived and now lives life with an authentic and exuberant spirit — a quality interwoven into every fabric she showcases. Her creations serve as a tangible expression of life’s most beautiful moments. The kaftans and her other pieces embody the word ‘creation.’ Just like her perspective on life, she wants her customers to look and feel their best. "When you're wearing my pieces, you should have fun," she gleefully shared.
Brown's journey is not just about fashion, but rather a profound narrative of transformation and resilience. Her connection to Palm Springs intertwined with a generational legacy, serves as a testament to the enduring power of art and creativity. Beyond the aesthetics, her designs evoke a sense of cultural fusion - a celebration of merging California and AfroChic styles. Her work is a celebration of individuality and a reminder that the desert's barren landscapes can, through art, bloom with diversity, vibrancy, and life.
Visitors and locals alike can shop at her boutique within Hotel Paseo in Palm Desert. It’s not just a store; it's a purposeful sanctuary where visitors can explore the tapestry of life, identity, and creativity that define both Aneka Brown as a designer, and Greater Palm Springs as a whole.