Designer Catherine Gee shares her Santa Barbara Black Book

Santa Barbara, with its majestic orange and purple sunsets, sandy coasts and colonial architecture, doesn’t have a hard time imbuing locals and out-of-towners with an inspiration to create. Just ask Catherine Gee, a celebrity-favorite contemporary clothing designer who specializes in “elevated casual wear” with tons of silk (we’re talking silk shirts, silk skirts, silk dresses, and now even silk face masks!). 

She’s only been in the clothing game for about five years, but her line has already been worn by the likes of Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts, and she, too, credits the Santa Barbara lifestyle as the inspiration for her work. Gee’s part of a merchant community called The Mill, which features everything from a wine bar and a brewery to a gym and an architect, similarly inspired by the Santa Barbara vibe. 

“It’s really fun,” she said regarding being a part of the city and the business group. “It’s very inspiring to be around so many makers and creators.” 

Having lived in Santa Barbara for 13 years now, Gee has visited quite a number of spots that not only fuel her creative instincts but are also just really cool and worthy of a visit when in town. Talking about these to-go’s brings out her lively personality even more. Here, a list of Catherine Gee’s hidden gems (and some not so hidden) in Santa Barbara: 

Convivo is a perfect date-night spot for dinner accompanied by those beautiful California sunsets. 

Gee describes the flair of this beach-side joint as “Californian meets Northern Italian,” and with dishes like peach flatbread pizza and chicken liver with celery, strawberry and hazelnuts, it’s not hard to see why her description is so fitting. She portrays it as a great middle-ground between white linen fine dining and a sit-down lunch spot. Gee also gushed about the al fresco dining, set on East Cabrillo Boulevard and a stone’s throw away from the beach. “The fish is amazing, they do great handmade pasta, it’s a lovely ambiance and really high-quality food,” she said.