The Journal

A byproduct of the 2020 crises was a sort of masterful collective culling of our lives. For example, most businesses (if they survived) shifted priorities. I spent the pandemic questioning what Olivia Joffrey was both communicating in our design work and offering our customers. Something felt unfinished and a little hollow. Since our line's launch 2016, our thesis has been: “conjure my mother's world of expats living in a midcentury Spanish writer’s colony via fine cotton caftans.” The dresses were the product, but my mother's backstory was our raison d’etre. My favorite aspect of my workday was inhabiting her late 1960s analog world through storytelling: imagining her slipping into an easy cotton dress for a beach picnic, spending solitary time lounging with a book, and sunburned boozy afternoons at a café with friends who read books. I wrestled with one main question: what was the true kernel in this past life of her's that could be replicated? It wasn't just the caftans.

Indeed, it was the slowness of my mother's midcentury expat life that I ached for.  The communing with friends around a casually arranged table, the use of candles, the pedestrian trip to the market with a straw bag, the book tucked into your palm to bide time while in the que, the fire in the hearth. The caftans were a (lovely, simple) costume worn whilst living this slow life. But they were also a talisman of a pre-digital life that I remember and miss. In an effort to align my business model with the ethos of slow living, I made a few changes in our process. 

Each New Dress is Given a Dinner

At each Slow Supper, a caftan silhouette is debuted and feted with a warm welcome. Our photoshoots, formerly accomplished with a model, have been replaced with a real life event (a small dinner party at my bungalow.) These casual Slow Suppers, cooked by me in my kitchen, are meant to be homey, unstudied, soulful and touch on themes related to slowing down. So we've removed the artifice: and now we are left with just a real meal with a real friends, featuring a woman wearing a caftan. We celebrate with a locally-sourced menu, local wine, a custom playlist and a tablescape designed to celebrate this one silhouette in this one moment in time. The only difference is our subtle photographer (Danielle Rubi) dipping in to document. 

Breaking Bread, Raising a Glass as Time Travel

Gathering around a dinner table for food and conversation is slow because it’s ancient. We connect with one another and savor in unison, just as our ancestors did centuries prior. It's one of the simplest acts of beauty we can implement every day, I find. In the digital landscape we all inhabit, an unplugged meal can be a sort of time travel. 

Local is Slow

Slow fashion has learned from the Slow Food movement. They dovetail in our Slow Suppers rather nicely: my intent is to feature local farms, ranches and wineries that make the Santa Barbara region such a place of abundance. I am joined at each dinner by a different cast of characters, but always with the expertise of photographer Danielle Rubi. Danielle, a Santa Barbara native, lived abroad herself (she lived in Paris for a decade) working in the art and food worlds – notably with the late Anthony Bourdain. She is a visual poet in communicating this celebration of slowness, of the analog life, food, and a well-nourished spirit. It is an honor to be partnered with Danielle in this new endeavor.

At each Slow Supper you will find:

  • An OJ caftan silhouette (small batch, limited-edition, Made in CA)
  • Table setting (napkins, place cards etc) elements – also for sale, limited-edition)
  • Home-cooked menu of local produce, meat, seafood (recipes shared here in the Journal)
  • A Local wine or spirit 
  • A Spotify playlist curated for the celebration

Slow Suppers is a sort of laboratory in slow living and well as a chance to eat and drink with interesting people. Occasionally we will share any lessons learned in our experiments in slow living, which can be found here.

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