Lookbook Shoot: Santa Cruz Island


When we were thinking of how we wanted the Summer 2015 Lookbook to be shot, I was also thinking of the places I wanted to explore here in California. You know how it is - living in a place, taking holidays far away, and not having seen enough of what is around you. I have always wanted to surf the Channel Islands. My friends had told me about how beautiful they were, the trip there (only accessible by boat), see through waters, desolate landscapes of small islands that drop into the Pacific Ocean, mainly empty, and glorious waves. I pictured a day's adventure out there, the road trip and the destination being the cadence for the season's looks.

So we got up at dawn, very early, coffee in the cupholders of the cars, and started the drive to Ventura Harbor from Venice Beach. The Channel Islands are north of LA, parallel and West of Ventura, and there are 5 of them that are National Parks. Preserved, protected, and no population on most of them at all. Other than a lot of wildlife. 

We had secured places on a tour boat to go to Santa Cruz, one of the larger Islands. As we crossed the calm Santa Barbara Channel (a busy shipping channel), we saw schools of dolphins swimming with us, clear and close to the boat, albatrosses, pelicans and gulls wheeling and diving for fish. A couple of seals were basking on some of the small platforms that are dotted out there, close to some of the floating oil rigs that are scattered through the channel. The day we had chosen fortunately was sunny, and the air was a little crisp, but felt clean, fresh, and invigorating for the day ahead. We passed the other islands, saw craggy cliffs and grottos that cascaded into the sea, stained by legions of terns and gulls that lived there, that watched us back as we passed. It was about an hour and a half on the boat until we arrived at the Island. We were already getting pictures for our lookbook - the blue ocean, the wind in our hair, the nautical details of the boat, and the ocean.

Then we arrived. Walked off the boat, all gazing at the grasses and rocks covering the dry, rugged, desolate hills and mountains and canyons. A view that made us all feel like we were faraway from our city beach lives. Time to work. My childhood friend Clement Jolin was the photographer - he always captures special moments so well. The naturally beautiful model for the day was Fabienne (Next Models), and we photographed her all around the island. We walked dusty paths along hillsides, on beaches of dark sand that made the colors of our dresses pop, into huge sea caves and around pristine tide pools. We passed remnants of old houses and barns from the 1800's (all abandoned).  Dry island buckwheat and asters were the wildflowers complimenting to the greys and neutrals of the collection. Hills that dropped out to an endless ocean were breathtaking and easy locations for shots.

On the island you can hear wind rustling amongst the grasses and leaves, over the cliffs and the sea, the screech of gulls. We saw the small wild foxes that are protected on the islands, as there is no population. They are unafraid of people, and came right up to us. We could see holes in the ground from some wildlife, couldn't tell if it was from snakes or other burrowing types...It was a real experience to share all of these animal's habitat.

The day was coming to a close in this natural haven, and we boarded the boat back to start the trip home. Now the sea wasn't as calm, more wind and the spray of the bow was cutting through some chop, splashing us as we all stood outside  on the deck to savor the last of this getaway. This channel crossing can be incredibly rough, but it wasn't bad at all for us, an enjoyable connection with the natural elements and moments to reflect on those beautiful islands and how great it is they haven't been spoiled by anything yet. 

Click here to see our Summer Lookbook, and here to learn more about trips to Santa Cruz Island.

Many thanks to the team: Clement, Fabienne and as always Joanne Kim.

A recent note: I can only hope the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara hasn't reached the shores of the islands. It would wreak havoc on the wildlife. I have seen the tar on beaches and birds and seals affected by oil spills before, and it's devastating.