Montecito, California, just might be one of the most perfect places on Earth. (Consider that Oprah could live anywhere and chooses this slice of paradise to call home.) Nestled just east of Santa Barbara, the stretch of coast sees miles of sprawling estates, one of which is the lush 37-acre property known as Lotusland—where, on Saturday night, a dreamy afternoon led to an enchanted evening in the garden to raise money to preserve the estate. The fête was sponsored by Etro, whose gorgeous Italian silk prints could be seen on many of the guests.
“I came to this event two years ago and absolutely fell in love with the gardens, the whole space, and the story around them,” said Camilla Belle while strolling through the cactus garden. “I came back last summer and took a proper tour, and obviously, they’re just so spectacular that you want to do everything that you can to help preserve a place like this so that people can come and appreciate its beauty.”
Lotusland is the historic estate of the fabulous Madame Ganna Walska, whose larger-than-life energy is still palpable on a tour of the property’s many gardens. An opera singer turned socialite, Walska lived and performed all over the world. She was married six times, the sixth time leading her to California, where she finally decided to plant some roots—and become an avid garden designer. The property’s maze of whimsical gardens, which flower with floating lotus plants (which inspired the name of the property), spidery fields of cacti, and a Japanese garden was the focus of the evening’s festivities.
Guests were treated to an exclusive look at the newly renovated Japanese garden, where traditional Japanese music filled the air and models donning Japanese kimono strolled alongside the peaceful scene. Japanese culture was celebrated throughout the evening; from the lychee- and tea-infused cocktails to the sushi dinner.
“I came tonight, first off, because of Etro, which I think is the epitome of boho-chic, and perfect for the summer,” said January Jones while dining al fresco on one of the estate’s sprawling lawns. “I had heard of Lotusland before. A friend of mine—Rachel Goodwin, who is a makeup artist—had told me about this woman, Ganna Walska, and I was fascinated by her story. I have her biography and felt drawn to know more about it. Being here, in this space, with all of these super-eccentric people is so amazing.”
And given the garden’s recent re-opening following a three-year, $6.5 million renovation, many others, just like Jones, will be lured to Lotusland to see what all the fuss is about.