We're gonna say it -- Palm Springs feels a little played out. Not as a destination, of course (heaven help anyone who thinks that a weekend of vintage shopping and playing dead by the Parker pool is anything less than utopian), but as an inspirational fashion mood that has come to define the very prominent faction of "vintage-inspired" California style and seen countless collections, retail vibes and designer mood boards fall somewhere between palm trees, your grandmother's closet and ironic ladies' golf shorts.
But leave it to L.A.-based artist, photographer and all-around creative badass Lisa Eisner to change up the standard vibe of old-soul Cali style in less than two minutes.
On Tuesday, a short film that the former fashion editor directed for pal Tory Burch will debut at the designer's official Rodeo Drive flagship opening party. And guests of the glittery affair will be treated to lush California greenery and an almost magical haze that serves as the backdrop for Burch's Rodeo Drive capsule collection -- an offering of printed caftans, movement-heavy party dresses and costume baubles galore that capture a semisweet, yet nonsaccharine feel of Cali in the '70s.
Filmed at Ganna Walska Lotusland near Santa Barbara, which Eisner calls "the most beautiful garden in America," the short follows two girls as they frolic through cactus gardens and lounge by a pool. Yes, the Palm Springs undertones are there. But gone is the Slim Aarons coloring that has come to define midcentury California.
"When they first came to me, we talked about how they were inspired by Tony Duquette," Eisner told Pret-a-Reporter by phone minutes after returning home from a family trip to Big Sur. "But I've always wanted to shoot at Lotusland. And when I saw the clothes, I was like, this is so perfect. The prints actually look like some of the flowers."
Eisner's dream location is the former estate of Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer whose lackluster career (and one very memorable vegetable pelting) inspired a character in Citizen Kane.
"She kept marrying one rich guy after another. They'd divorce their wives and fall at her feet," she explained.
Eisner says the location worked for its mix of fantasy and theatrics, two qualities required for any true California look -- no matter how far up or down the coast it may be. Plus, the garden -- which sits on 37 acres and feature more than 300 species of cactus alone -- has the one thing absolutely required for style to happen in the first place: "It's very, very special."