The World of The Santa Cruz Cabana Dress

Santa Cruz Cabana Dress


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How I was Inspired

The Santa Cruz cabana dress is inspired by the culture of it’s namesake Northern California town, and specifically, one woman who personified it’s unique blend of beauty and brains: my godmother Sharon Cadwallader. Sharon was the doyenne of my parent’s social set made up of writers, actors, professors and potters. Sharon was a local celebrity for her popular Mexican cookbooks, food column in the San Francisco Chronicle, and a well-received restaurant. Sharon was tall, lanky and tan with a hoarse, musical voice. She wore long caftans from Mexico and piles of silver jewelry from Taxco. I would sit in her lap and play with her bracelets while she would lecture me about the toxic hazards of soda pop. Sharon was a writer, a foodie, a traveler – the fact that she always looked chic, colorful and refined was just the wrapping paper on the impressive gift that she was as a person. She was the essence of Santa Cruz’s glamour in the 1970s: worldly, sophisticated, fun and endlessly interested in the world.

Northern California Glamour

Santa Cruz is both a famous coastal surfing destination and a community of intellectuals, due to its being a university town (UCSC is nestled in the hills above the city.) Where I grew up, on the cliffs overlooking the Monterey Bay, beach bungalows were alternately inhabited by surfers and professors. And sometimes the surfers were professors. The Santa Cruz cabana dress mirrors this uniquely California position of natural beauty colliding with intellectual pursuit: it’s a dress designed for a chic woman with much more going on than looking good. Glamour in Santa Cruz was more about your tan than your jewelry. A glow of health that was earned from hours being in the outdoors, not primping in a mirror. It was a community where the natural landscape – the Pacific’s blue tumult, the lush redwood forests, the hillsides peppered with wild oak trees – was rich.

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