Fashion designer Catherine Gee opens new location for her boutique
Fashion designer Catherine Gee has celebrated the opening of her eponymous brand’s new boutique, which is located at 1114 State St., Suite 24, in La Arcada Plaza.
The grand opening celebration for Catherine Gee Boutique took place Friday evening at the Santa Barbara store.
“We started in a smaller, 1,000 square-foot store on Haley Street,” Ms. Gee told the News-Press. “To have a pre-eminent beautiful spot downtown on State Street is a dream.
“For any fashion designer, opening a brick-and-mortar is the best,” the Santa Barbara fashion designer continued. “I think for any dream, you have to put in the work. I have had the brand for seven years. I go to 13 trade shows a year. You are so engrossed in the journey you realize it is time to go to the next phase.
“That is where I found myself in the last year. This is a gorgeous loft — 2,400 square feet. It feels welcoming and like a home,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like walking into work everyday.”
Launching her fashion line in 2015 as an all-silk collection, Ms. Gee became known for her core slip dress style. She has since grown the brand into full ready-to-wear with an emphasis still on silks: printed blouses and dresses with luxe velvets, high quality cottons and bold eye-catching jacquards.
Ms. Gee holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art and art history from Sewanee: The University of the South, which is in Sewanee, Tenn.
The News-Press asked Ms. Gee about the origin of her fashion line.
“To begin with, I am an artist,” she explained. “My father is a career painter. I have learned to illustrate from a young age. I worked in museums and art galleries. I was curating and writing grants.
“I became adept at running a small business. I have wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 10 or 11. I always knew I wanted a silk line, and I started working on it.”
She said the Catherine Gee brand includes “anything from denim to cotton twill pants to signature silk blouses, high quality pima cotton T-shirts, jackets, jumpsuits and some accessories including: purses, shoes, sunglasses, perfume and even candles.”
Ms. Gee said the prints are what make her designs unique.
“I am a trained artist. I create my prints from ideas, visions, street art, Paris and more,” she explained. “The prints are very different. I have applied my prints to my silk on classic timeless silhouettes, and it’s succeeding and selling very well. Over the years, I have realized my job is a wardrobe builder. The goal is to create high quality timeless pieces that women will reach for season after season in 10 years or 20 years.
“I’m not following trends,” she said. “I’m trying to create pieces women can wear at 30 years old and 20 years later at 50.”
Ms. Gee won industry recognition when she became the winner of WWD and Galeries Lafayette (Paris) Creme de la Creme Emerging Designer competition in 2016.
Over the years, her designs have attracted a flattering list of smart, beautiful A-listers including Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Mila Kunis, Kate Bosworth, Olivia Wilde, Alessandra Ambrosio, Debra Messing, Jessica Alba and Rebecca Gayheart.
“The brand was birthed in Santa Barbara, and we are sold in over 200 retail stores nationwide,” Ms. Gee said. “I design classic collections for all four seasons and a resort collection every year.”