Introducing Slow Suppers

Introducing Slow Suppers

A byproduct of the 2020 pandemic was a sort of masterful collective culling of our lives. For example, most businesses (if they survived) shed plans and shifted priorities. I spent the pandemic questioning what the Olivia Joffrey brand 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 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 queue, 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 environment 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 (worn by a guest) is debuted and feted with a small dinner party at my bungalow. The dinners are designed to be homey, unstudied, and soulful - like 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. Photographer Danielle Rubi documents the evening (and the caftan in it's tableaux) . 

Break Bread, Raise a Glass, Time Travel

Gathering around a dinner table for food and conversation is an opportunity to connect with one another and savor in unison. Being at the table together is one of the simplest acts of beauty we can implement every day. 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. Food and fashion dovetail neatly at our Slow Suppers. the intent is to feature local farms, ranches and wineries that make the Santa Barbara region a place of both community and abundance. At each dinner, a different group gathers, toasts the new silhouette, and the mood it embodies.

Photographer Danielle Rubi, a Santa Barbara native, lived abroad herself (Paris for a decade) working in the art, music and food worlds – notably with the late Anthony Bourdain. Danielle's work is a celebration of slowness, the analog life, cooking, and maintaining a well-nourished spirit. 

    Our Slow Suppers are a laboratory for slow living -- and 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 in the Journal.