Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The '60s returned to Santa Cruz with a vengeance last Sunday, when the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County held its annual Primavera fundraising event up at Chaminade. Lured by a fashionista's dream theme, "The Far Out & Fab 1960s," guests were invited to participate in a silent auction with cocktails, a live auction of big-ticket items onstage with the effervescent Rob Slawinski of Slawinski Auction Company, a lavish sit-down dinner, and dancing to—who else?— the White Album Ensemble.

As usual here in Santa Cruz, when costumes are involved, the crowd really got into the spirit of the thing. Art Boy and I were volunteers at the event, working the silent auction room, which gave us a ringside seat for the flashback fashion parade. Every nanosecond from the span of '60s culture was represented, from Mad Men-style sheath dresses and bouffants to mod Swinging London ensembles (vinyl caps, go-go boots, paisley, bell-bottoms) to fringed hippie vests, tie-dyed T-shirts, Afros, and love beads; from Holly Golightly to Andy Warhol.

Most local folk faced with this kind of fashion challenge head straight for one of the fine costume emporia we have in this town. The praises of Closet Capers and Cognito were sung throughout the evening among the most severely duded-up participants. Me, I just strap on my miners' headlamp and go spelunking into my own closet, where old clothes never die, they just get shoved to a less prominent part of the rack.

Sadly, the old bell-bottom blue jeans with the floral print patches I sewed all over the butt that I actually wore in the '60s have long since disintegrated. Another obstacle to recreating the full-press hippie look I paraded around in in high school is that I no longer have that long, lank, Janis Joplin hair. But I did unearth the flowing gauze number pictured above, with the lacy yoke and batwing sleeves. Reader, I got married in this dress, and I was delighted at the chance to finally wear it a second time.

True, it's not technically from the '60s (for those of you keeping score at home, I bought it for $21 at Santa Cruz Imports in 1978), but it's completely true to the hippie/earth mother spirit of the times. In fact, my inspiration was Mother Nature in that vintage TV commercial for margarine. ("It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!") I should have had a circlet of flowers in my hair, but it was pouring rain all day Sunday and I opted not to dash out to Beverly's for faux fabric daisies. But now, as I scrutinize myself in that little, unadorned gold headband, I think I look more like a refugee from a low-budget Jane Austen movie. Well, at least I'm wearing an athentic macramé necklace, actually hand-made for me in the '60s by my friend Diane Plummer.

Btw, that's CCSCC Events Coordinator Ann Ostermann on the left, in her groovy lime-green mini-dress. Next to her, in the Carnaby Street duds, Isaiah Williams, chief event expediter and natty dresser (in any era). Then myself, and the ever-fetching Art Boy. Thanks for a great party, Ann!

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