Catherine Gee Illustrates Growth, Brand Evolution With Fall 2022 Collection


Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian

As of Friday, August 5, 2022

There is a lot to celebrate at Catherine Gee this fall as the designer reaches her seven-year anniversary in Santa Barbara, Calif. While Gee has built upon her core silks with which she launched her business, the designer explores new ways to refresh her most popular pieces each season while also examining approaches to add new garments that will speak to the Catherine Gee client. The designer’s Fall 2022 collection achieves this by offering client favorites in novel patterns—some of which seem to be a departure from Gee’s typical aesthetic but create new ways to wear Catherine Gee.

“When it comes to fall, I always look at how an urban woman dresses, and I try to put myself in the shoes of a New Yorker or someone in Chicago but still the DNA of Catherine Gee—the silks, the shirting, the prints— and so I thought, ‘Okay, I’ve been developing my prints and sister prints that play off of each other,’” Gee said. “I wanted to do something illustrative and fun. Last summer when I was in Miami I stayed in Coconut Grove, Fla. There are peacocks everywhere. I would get up early every morning, and now I have an album in my phone of peacocks and videos of peacocks. I always wanted to do a peacock print.”

Blending the inspiration from the natural beauty of the peacock with the Art Deco influence of Erté’s illustrations for her silk shirting, Gee developed an Egyptian Goddess print that forms an abstract letter C. The sibling print of this design is named Cat Woman, which plays on Gee’s nickname, “Cat.” The print also speaks to strong femininity with a bare-breasted but tastefully illustrated Art Deco–style woman pictured with a leopard. This move was a bit risqué for Gee, but in her search for new elements she found the design path on which she wanted to continue.

“That was really bold for me to do,” Gee noted. “I got some of my most conservative buyers to buy them. It was very cool to put that out into the market.”

Within silk shirting, Gee also explored new snakes and leopards. To shift the mood in animal prints, Gee softened these two patterns and applied them to different silhouettes such as a reversible kimono.

“I’ve been working on those two neutrals—Sedona snake and a new leopard—for a while,” said Gee. “The aqua snake, in the past, has been one of our best-selling prints, so I wanted to strip it away and add more silver and pearl colors to it. With the new leopard, it was blurring it and adding gray.”

Known for her car coats, Gee took a fan favorite Kendal car coat and applied a silk stripe in light army green and a lighter pewter hue. Typically the coat is offered in jacquard, and Gee continued to provide this fabrication while offering a new colorway in Peruvian quartz, which offers a winter shimmer. There is also the Dutch, which yields a deep, rich wine-color pattern. Gee also designed the car coat in an autumn-perfect soft camel-colored corduroy.

“The jacquards are my favorite. The Peruvian quartz is cool. I added more of a Rorschach effect to it, and inkiness led to the Peruvian quartz,” explained Gee. “The other one was the Dutch jacquard. On the other side of it you have rich, deep Dutch painting, then the light, bright, very vibrant palette of the Peruvian quartz.”

While new collections always spur excitement among a devoted clientele, Gee wanted to share that she is taking her brand to a more-inclusive level. Shirting for the Fall 2022 collection will be offered up to XXL as Gee recognizes the importance of accommodating women in an array of sizes who want to look beautiful.

“Even though I don’t experience winter anymore, how do I put myself in the shoes of an urban woman in the city where it’s cooler but also keep the classics?” said Gee when explaining her process for designing cool-weather collections. “What color palettes? What structure? How will she travel? What will her commute look like? Can she wear sneakers with the Stella pant? Little things like that. I always try to put myself in the head of a woman who is living in a city and is a bit more practical.”

At the end of August, Gee will celebrate another facet of expansion when she opens a new location on Santa Barbara’s State Street after outgrowing her original 1,100-square-foot boutique. The new 2,300-square-foot space is located next to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, affording additional sources of inspiration to Gee.

“It’s the natural progression, and it’s bittersweet because we started out here,” said Gee, speaking from the original Catherine Gee location. “But it’s exciting and makes me feel really good.”