For the past few months my weekly column has been focused on the activity of women’s retail in Montecito. The question I've been getting from many of my girlfriends has been "what do you think about all the new stores?”
Loving fashion, I'm very excited about the expanded options of boutiques. I do think it will take some time to "shop" the new stores and see what they carry. The good news is, from my field trip around the Village, they all have something different in price point, age range and merchandise. It should be fun for shoppers to discover these new places and take a break from the gridlock on Highway 101 south to Los Angeles stores and shops.
The newest entry on the women’s apparel scene is Calypso St. Barth, 1014-E Coast Village Road. The store's Sept. 12 opening-day celebration was heralded with pink balloons at its two entrances at the Montecito Country Mart.
It was like unwrapping a birthday present as I entered the shopping center's newest store. The architectural magic of this 900-square-foot boutique is surprising and awesome in its design. It showcases the notion that even less can be more if built well. With 41 stores, whether in New York, Los Angeles, St. Barth or Montecito, Calypso stores are warm and inviting and the staff is very friendly. In spite of its national presence, there is no generic chain store or cookie-cutter environment that accompanies this boutique.
Started in 1992 by Christiane Celle, who was inspired by West Indian music and pink orchids, Calypso has gone from an island resort-focused shop with dip-dyed T-shirts, caftans and bathing suits to a luxury brand. Calypso carries all the items a woman would need to take herself from day to night and season to season, including its signature fragrances. The best part is that moms and young adult daughters can actually shop together and leave speaking to each other.
Montecito store manager Wendy Figueiredo has a long history in retail. She has returned to her "first love" after a hiatus to raise her son and gave me a tour of each section of the store, which is merchandised by color.
According to Figueiredo, “clothing will be changed out on a regular basis." Apparel and accessories are designed to be endlessly mixed and matched into countless combinations of effortless elegance, a company credo. From one of this season’s hottest hues, burgundy, plus navy, winter white, shades of blue/green and black and white and gray, within each of those well-stocked groupings are different textures from cashmere to silk to linen. All can easily make the transition from casual jeans by AG and Paige Denim to elegant evening wear, perfectly suited for the Santa Barbara lifestyle.
In addition to the clothing, an abundant and tasteful selection of fashion accessories — from jewelry, handbags, scarves, ballet slippers, belts, sandals, and short and high boots — can give a new look to last season’s clothes.
The store carries merchandise by more than 20 high-end designers and private labels, and many of the items in the store are part of its namesake collection.
“Calypso is not driven by market trends, but rather Calypso designers are always on the search for new fabrics, embellishments and global finds,” Figueiredo explained. "Collections are inspired by destinations and beautiful color palettes."
Calypso may be the newest addition at Montecito Country Mart, but owner Jim Rosenfield’s shopping center has been slowly filling up over the past two years after construction was completed to reformat the space to better accommodate small businesses. A preservationist, Rosenfield’s desire was to freshen up the existing 1960s architecture rather than completely overhaul it.
The center includes neighborhood services like dry cleaners, a barber shop, a bank, a post office, coffee shop, health food market, toy store and ice cream shop — something for the entire family's needs and wants. Adding to those shops are the upscale clothing and cosmetic boutiques that have traditionally been part of the urban landscape rather than the semi-rural lifestyle of Montecito.
The rhythm that Rosenfield hoped for and exists in his other properties — in Los Angeles and Marin — is starting to work for me. I find myself being able to run several errands without moving my car. I can go from a coffee/breakfast meeting at Xanadu, pick up the dry cleaning, buy the latest magazines or a greeting card and mail it at the Read 'n Post, grab a juice from Pressed Juicery after a workout or have lunch at Little Alex’s or a sandwich at Panino, wash it down with Rory’s ice cream and even buy some dog treats or a new dog collar at George. Sprinkled among the go-to shops are national shopping satellites James Perse, Malia Mills, Intermix, Space.NK.apothecary and Calypso St. Barth, many of which already have our well-traveled community as existing customers.
Because there are no signs saying "locals only" at the street entrances to Montecito, many people will be descending on our village to check out the new and existing stores on Coast Village Road, the Upper Village and Richard Gunner’s multiuse project on San Ysidro Road. This is great news for our small town’s economy. Seasoned retailers know that, although it's sometimes uncomfortable, competition is great for business.
Calypso St. Barth is open daily at 1014-E Coast Village Road in the Montecito Country Mart. Click here for more information, or call 805.565.3104.