- Photo by Amy T. Granite
The early ’60s marked a turning point in America; a budding subculture came into full bloom by 1967—the start of our country’s sexual revolution and the end of the conservative ideals of the 1950s. Women emerged from the kitchen and traded their mother’s aprons for fashions that didn’t just show more skin, but also represented the freedom to express the desires that eventually led to equality.
Today, when celebrity sex tapes are no more shocking than the half-naked, drunken 20-somethings that parade the streets of Downtown every Sunday en route to, or leaving from, the Hard Rock Hotel’s Intervention pool party, it’s easy to forget, and take for granted, how in the hell we got here.
In our tribute to the young 1960s—when our nation was on the cusp of arguably one of the most iconic eras in popular culture—we’re highlighting local businesses that have preserved a slice of a simpler time, at least by today’s standards.
Since it’s just about summertime in San Diego, what better way to dive into the past than with the hippest pool parties and throw-back swimwear by two local designers that prove fashions from the ’60s are en vogue once again:
The Pearl Hotel: Designer Michael Soriano is known for creating inviting spaces—and his 2009 Orchid-award-winning work at the Pearl Hotel (1410 Rosecrans St. in Point Loma) is just that, with a “vintage essence” to it, as he says. Guests lounge in hammocks by the heated saltwater pool and along the interior’s raised shag-carpet floors with over-sized pillows, classic board games and, of course, cocktails. Nods to ’60s and ’70s design sensibilities make the space whimsical and sexy in a James Bond sort of way. Starting Memorial Day weekend, the bar opens on Saturdays at noon, the kitchen at 5 p.m. Every Sunday, $22.50 gets you an entrée, bottomless mimosas and a swingin’ good time thanks to DJ’d beats at the Groove 24-7 Brunch. Ride your bike on the last Sunday of the month and get 10 bucks off your bill.
The Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club: After two years without a restaurant, hispters’ favorite Sunday- Funday locale is finally serving food again (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and that’s not the only new feature at North Park’s landmark hotel (2223 El Cajon Blvd.). The entire space—built in 1946—has undergone a renovation from its carpet to its beds, plus the back patio and poolside lounge. Even though it’s not reminiscent of the ’60s, its old-school charm cannot be denied—plus, it’s an actual swim club for locals. Be sure to sign the email log; management is tallying your visits to send discounted memberships and other coupons your way. Otherwise, $10 gets you a day at the pool, including deals on drinks, and on Saturday through Monday, there’s a DJ from noon till 6 p.m.
Fables by Barrie: Barrie Kaufman has been in the women’s swimwear business since 2007, handcrafting designs that are inspired by the ’50s and ’60s. “I’ve always loved vintage clothing,” she says, “how the pieces look and how well they’re made. Nowadays, clothing is disposable. People buy and then replace things in a month.” Kaufman’s suits are meant to last—in terms of both fashion and use. Prevalent are loud prints, bows and structured pieces that give and accentuate shape. High-wasted bikini-bottoms that cover the navel speak of the early ’60s, when the two-piece trend took off in the states. If you’re looking to make a patriotic statement this Fourth of July, wait for Kaufman’s stars-and-stripes prints that’ll be out soon. Stop by Fables’ new digs at 2535 Kettner Blvd., Suite 2ab, or shop online (fablesbybarrie.com). All products are made in Southern California.
Sauvage: The La Jolla retail store (1025 Prospect St.), designed by local architect Graham Downes, is unlike any place to shop for swimwear in San Diego. Its bright, sleek space with spacious dressing rooms makes the daunting task of finding the perfect suit far more pleasant than a department-store experience. While modern-day marvels like the “celebrity” crystal thong are nothing to scoff at, it’s the vintage-y men’s swim trunks that set San Diego native Elizabeth Southwood’s designs apart; shorter, tighter fits—some made from Lycra—leave way less to ladies’ imaginations (finally!). Fun retro prints, like plaids and bold stripes, include men in the “look at me” circle at pool parties and the beach. Everything is made in the U.S.