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Vintage Clothes, Vanguard Chic

Iconic Atomic

Palm Springs Iconic Atomic

By Kevin Perry

A conversation with Cat Slater is like a joyful ride in a time-traveling bumper car. As the Iconic Atomic owner bounces from topic to topic, the virtual calendar in her mind flutters effortlessly through decades of style and quirk.

Case in point: “Clothing for me, it’s personal. So we do from 1947, which is the start of Dior’s New Look, through not just midcentury, but we go through disco and into the early 80s and now the mid-80s because they’re actually back on the runway.”

While Slater’s couture know how spans centuries, she has found a kindred aesthetic in Palm Springs. “I kinda specialize in mid-century even though my knowledge covers 500 years. But, I don’t want to sell 1920’s; they’re too fragile. Somehow or another, we opened a store called Iconic Atomic.”

Caftans at Iconic Atomic shop
Caftans galore at Iconic Atomic

Meet Amy Boylan

The other half of her royal ‘we’ is Amy Boylan, curator of oddities and awesomeness at the shop. “She’s the golden goddess of stuff,” Cat quips before elucidating their unique collaborative style. “I do clothing – men’s and women’s – and we both overlap jewelry. We both have a good knowledge of what the other does. If it’s five dollars, we’ll just buy it, but we always text each other photos going, ‘This is $35, is it worth it?’ You either get ‘No’ or ‘Buy it now – don’t let it out of your sight!’”

Slater’s gleeful exclamations are bullet points of conversational confetti, from her beloved shop manager: “Julian runs Iconic Atomic and he’s fabulous!” to her west coast pride: “I’m actually an LA native. I graduated Pacific Palisades High School – surf’s up!” to her passion for our hometown: “I just love Palm Springs. What’s not to love? Great weather, except for in August!”

The Community is Brilliant

This last subject bears more than just an exuberant aside. Cat radiates SoCal spirit as she continues, “The community is brilliant! They are open, they are inviting, they are kind… We have the nicest people that come into the store. Locals have been so gracious, they’ve been supporting us – we just celebrated three years up and running in January.”

But Slater’s appreciation is boundless, embracing the entire globe as she narrates, “Our tourist people, especially for Modernism Week, they’re lovely. They’re coming in from all over the world and they just say the nicest things! We’ve even shipped two vintage stereos to New Zealand for a gentleman. He owns a music store and he wanted them; he knew what they were. They were bubble wrapped and shipped to New Zealand.”

Something For Everyone

No matter how far their wares may travel, Iconic Atomic’s dedication hits close to home. “I try and stock not just what I like,  but things I don’t like because I know they’re somebody else’s aesthetic.” Quick to give an example, Cat explains, “I’m not fond of things that button up the front.  It makes me feel like I’m wearing a waitress outfit. But I know that a lot of women love that look, and they belt it, and it’s just not who I am. So I’m always willing to take a step back and go, ‘Here’s what midcentury is, and here’s a good selection.’ That’s really how we take the stand. We want everybody to find something.”

Bow ties

Pounding her offbeat drum, Slater takes every opportunity to excavate the obscure. “You never know what I’m gonna find. It may be made yesterday, but if it’s so cool or so weird or so trippy, it will be in the store. Same with stuff. We find things and we look at it and we go, ‘I don’t even know what that is, but into the store it comes!’”

An ambassador of inclusion, Cat asserts, “Anything and everything we can find, it’s right for somebody.”

For Cat Slater, vintage is more than just a bunch of funky old items; it’s a philosophy that connects us with the past while distinguishing our path forward. “Our store is called Iconic Atomic. Honestly, iconic to me is huge; I love the word iconic because I truly believe you should be iconic in your own life. You personally should be iconic for your life.”

Individuality is paramount for Slater. It’s stitched into every garment she collects and woven into the fabric of the town she adores. Summoning her best Dorothy Gale impression, Cat concludes, “There’s no place quite like the Palm Springs community.”

Tiki woodware

And there’s no shopping experience quite like Iconic Atomic. Click your vintage heels together and check them out soon!

Iconic Atomic

1103 N. Palm Canyon Drive | 760.322.0777

Vintage Clothes, Vanguard Chic

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