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Santa Cruz: The Makeover

Five of your friends and neighbors get in touch with their inner vamps

Welcome to our 2005 Fall Fashion issue. By the way, you're looking really great today. Have you been working out? Well, clearly you've been doing something right.

You know, a lot of people give the fashion industry a bad rap, particularly when it comes to promoting this whole makeover thing. From the cutting and pasting of imperfect human flesh in prime-time reality programming to the USA's poorly reviewed yet long-running series, "Extreme Makeover: Iraq," opinions are polarized with regard to issues like superficiality and self-esteem.

"So what if you're a mousy librarian?" argue some. "Is that any reason not to just be happy in your own skin?" Or, they may ask, "Who needs all these newfangled PsyOps techniques? What's wrong with good old-fashioned torture?"

Still, what is more ingrained in the human psyche than the urge to nip and tuck, to twist and shout, to transform ourselves--and, yes, others--into some lofty ideal, even if it's one that only exists in our own heads?

When we decided to recruit five unwitting vict--that is to say, local celebs--for this issue, the goal was never a matter of improvement. Instead, the idea was to take people who are already much better-looking than, say, your average weekly newspaper editor, and make them, well, different.

So we approached Santa Cruz Film Festival director Jane Sullivan; Bookshop Santa Cruz vice president, UCSC lecturer and City Council member Ryan Coonerty; Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art co-director and flaming cow artist Kirby Scudder; environmental consultant Khalil Abu-Saba; and our own ringer, Metro Santa Cruz sales operation manager Rebecca Busa.

First, we told them how great they were looking--which we meant in all sincerity despite the fact that, in some cases, they were being invited over the phone. And then we proceeded to use flattery, guilt, blackmail and any other resources at our disposal to convince them to undergo a fashion transformation before the all-seeing eye of the camera.

The results you'll see are definitely new. Improved? Who can say, for are we not already perfect in the eyes of God/Allah/Buddha/Jah/(insert intelligent design entity here)?

Be that as it may, watching our models slip out of their old looks and into the new, we witnessed the same excitement most folks reserve for Halloween. (Note, we did not literally watch this slipping in and out process. Honest.)

And yes, we did make over more men than women, because men generally seem more in need of help on the fashion front. Several of the storekeepers who contributed clothes for this issue talked about the difficulty of selling fashion to men--straight men, that is--most of whom are apparently relying on the shopping goodwill of neighbors, mothers, girlfriends, wives and daughters to prevent them from having to go around stark naked. If you or someone you know falls in this latter category, we proffer the following advice: this October as you're cruising the vintage and thrift stores in search of Halloween costumes, why not see if they also have clothes that are wearable in everyday life? Or make that costume the basis for a new you. You may be happily surprised.

Hair and makeup courtesy of Gillian Hammond and Jenaya Wallace, who are both stylists at Lavish Salon, 602 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz; 831457.1544. Photographs by Dina Scoppettone.

Santa Cruz Film Fest director Jane Sullivan described her "before" look as "working girl guerrilla."

And her "after" look? "Working Girl Gorilla!"

Always stylish, Sullivan let her inner sex goddess out and turned her love lights on us all, as she strutted her stuff in faux fur, a delightful corset and hip-hugging pants.

All we can say is, "Where do we sign up to volunteer for the fifth annual Santa Cruz Film Festival?"

In her makeover photos, Sullivan is wearing Restraint pants ($99.95), Golden Dragon corset, $120, Forplay's full-length black faux fur pimp coat ($175) and Demonica's black leather combat boots ($120.00), courtesy of Eric at Luscious at 121 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz; 831.421.9986.

Jane's black faux fur purse ($10) is courtesy of Ralph at Love Me Two Times at 1331 Mission St., Santa Cruz; 831.429.6210.

Sunglasses are by Sexx Vision.

Santa Cruz City Council member, UCSC lecturer and Bookshop Santa Cruz VP Ryan Coonerty has always been a snappy dresser. Describing his "before" look as "classic white guy," Coonerty settled on a daring new style that he sums up as "a little retro, a little jazz."

Come to think of it, if Ryan starts wearing these to Tuesday meetings, maybe the whole City Council will go in for an image overhaul.

In his makeover photo, Ryan is wearing a Da Vinci retro black with white stitch crest shirt ($50), with a New York Hat Co. felt fedora ($40) and faux alligator shoes ($40), all courtesy of Cognito Clothing owner Annie Rains at 821 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; 831.426.5414.

Ryan's sunglasses are $11, courtesy of Ralph at Love Me Two Times at 1331 Mission St., Santa Cruz; 831.429.6210.

SCICA co-director Kirby Scudder described his "before" look as "part Mad Max, part bike messenger, part insane industrial neononprofit manager/director."

His "after" look? "Retro. It's me going back to my roots, harking back to my early days." And he'd love it if you'd all come on down to the Attic and see Sandy Bradshaw's show, then take a drawing session, "because it's good for your mental health."

In his makeover photo, Scudder is wearing a Cotton Reel shirt ($70), Quick Reflex pants ($85) and Ecco shoes ($165).

All are courtesy of Ruth at Aptos Shoes and Apparel, 20 Rancho del Mar Shopping Center, Aptos; 831.688.8007.

Sunglasses are courtesy of Ralph at Love Me Two Times, 1331 Mission St., Santa Cruz; 831.429.6210.

Frequently stylish environmental consultant Khalil Abu-Saba (who may, in fact, be married to a Metro Santa Cruz editor) describes his "before" look as "West Side cowboy, heavy on the bling." And his "after" look? "The meeting face, with the bling stripped down to the essential, and priceless wedding band by Blind Pilot." Awww.

In his makeover photo, Khalil is wearing a Stacey Adams zoot suit, ($198), a retro tie ($12) and black patent shoes ($35), all courtesy of Annie Rains of Cognito Clothing at 821 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; 831.426.5414.

Metro Santa Cruz sales operation manager Rebecca Busa is always stylish, but she keeps the glam somewhat under wraps at work lest we all get totally distracted. Busa describes her "before" look as "casual Santa Cruz girl." And her "after" look? "Santa Cruz wild child."

As it happens, it's a tradition in this town for many understated hippie femmes to morph into over-the-top mistresses of the night on Halloween. Rebecca says she knows nothing about this.

In her makeover photo, Rebecca is wearing Lip Service's "Gangsta Pranksta" top ($69.95) and skirt ($59.95), a pinstripe fedora ($25.99) and Electra 1020 boots ($44.95), all courtesy of Eric at Luscious.

Her red boa ($8) and beaded black purse ($10) are courtesy of Ralph at Love Me Two Times, 1331 Mission St., Santa Cruz; 831.429.6210.

Last but not least, Rebecca's red earrings ($17) are courtesy of Kamala Franseth at Best of Everything, 1540 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; 831.423.3005.


Photograph by Adam Wright

Free Your Mind--and the Rest Will Follow

How to get Umbrella Man's pink look for Halloween

By Sarah Phelan

He's a familiar sight on Pacific Avenue, along with the little old man who plays the violin and the woman who rides a bicycle with her hair over her eyes. But unlike his fellow downtown mainstays, Umbrella Man is the only one to single-handedly bring Santa Cruz men as close to a unified fashion trend as this town has ever seen. The occasion? Halloween 2004, when 11 Umbrella Man look-alikes slow-walked down Pacific Avenue, behind their muse, whose real name is Robert Steffen.

Back then, Umbrella Man was into Hawaiian shirts, wearing yellow-themed shirts and yellow pants on weekdays, and pink shirts and pants only on weekends.

'It wasn't until December that I started to wear pink all week," recalls Steffen. "Pink is more fun."

In January 2005, Umbrella Man started tweaking his shirt arrangement, then really upped the downtown ante by putting a skirt over his pants.

"I decided, why wear pants if I don't need to," says Steffen. But while he has completely shed his pants, he has also taken to donning a long pink down jacket in winter.

Photograph by Sarah Phelan

To get his new look, Umbrella Man recommends that acolytes seek out their own colorful fun things, as opposed to strictly following his outfits.

"Try not to limit yourself. Many males won't consider makeup as colorful and fun," says Steffen, who typically wears a goldish mineral-based foundation, rouge, lipstick and an assortment of colorful stickers.

As he explains, what motivated him to wear a skirt wasn't so much wanting to wear a skirt as wanting to wear more interesting clothes.

"I noticed that anything interesting--like leggings--was always in the women's section," he laments. "Men are stuck with jean-type slacks."

This year, pink has become Umbrella Man's predominant color, beginning with pink tights, plus light pink leg warmers with red dots for colder weather, and comfy sneakers tricked out with stickers and flowers.

"I would buy pink sneakers, too, but they don't come in my size," says Umbrella Man, who believes the lack of larger colorful sizes is more evidence of sexist fashion.

These days, he's taken to topping his leggings with a pink and mauve flowered skirt, a pink shirt, a pink boa and a pink shawl with sequins.

"I'd like to get a skirt that's all sequined and overlapping," he confides.

To finish off your own Umbrella Man look, don't forget the pink knitted hat with pink flower, Mardi gras beads, pearls--oh, and of course, a pink Tweety-bird decorated, Velor-lined umbrella.

Says Umbrella Man, who does most shopping online and can't promise he'll be in pink come Halloween, "I don't plan ahead, I just like to have fun."

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From the September 28-October 5, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

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