If ever a community needed a new beginning it is Montecito, which was brought to its knees by the Thomas Fire and the deadly flash flooding, mud and debris flows that followed so soon after.
This spring feels different. Our super blooms are more vibrant this year and the mountainsides are greener than last.
But that’s not all.
In the last month, I’ve attended the formal ribbon cutting for the Rosewood Miramar Beach, the grand opening weekend of The Montecito Club, the one-year anniversary of clothing boutique Ambiance, and the opening of the new men’s and women’s boutique BASKE California, Kim and Andy Busch’s Folded Hills wine tasting room and the blue-chip Heather James art gallery.
All this energy and buzz has made me start feeling like my old self. I am happy and hopeful.
It’s sure been a long time coming but the surge of optimism and excitement was especially evident at the recent opening night party for Johnny Was, a national women’s clothing store at 1159 Coast Village Road.
As I entered, I was reminded of what a beautiful architectural space the building is, with such a rich history of retail over the years, such as Letter Perfect, Maison K and E Madison Design.
Johnny Was has taken the place to a whole new level, with its brightly colored florals and hand-painted sign and murals by Christopher Lord. The dazzling atmosphere and the brilliant hues of the Cali-casual and boho chic clothing and accessories are an ideal antidote for the blues after a drab winter and months of community rebuilding.
Rob Trauber, CEO of the chain of more than 40 stores, and Catherine Nation, its executive vice president of retail, were on hand with co-hosts Chynna and Billy Baldwin to welcome the community.
The event featured wines by Margerum Wine Co. and hors d’oeuvres from The Monarch restaurant at the Montecito Inn, and the company donated a portion of its opening evening sales to the nonprofit Partnership for Resilient Communities, which is installing debris-flow ring nets in canyons above Montecito.
The evening was more like a reunion, with lots of hugs and kisses among people who have not seen each other in far too long and are eager to reconnect. Conversations usually spark stories of what we’ve all been through and the relief that we all feel at having survived a second winter.
The attraction to Johnny Was is understandable in Montecito. These are “happy clothes,” with a good price point for the quality and a style that is as timeless as our American Riviera.
With Coast Village Road becoming a strolling street now more than ever, locals and visitors will want to stop and shop at all the new boutiques and restaurants that are an important part of Montecito’s brighter future.
— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.