Instagram aficionados know photographer Gray Malin for his eye-popping, pastel-hued images: Think sunbathers sprawled on cheery striped towels along Waikiki Beach, or llamas sporting pink balloons in a dreamy desert landscape. In honour of the 90th anniversary of the 22-acre Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara – the architectural grande dame became a nonagenarian on December 16, 2017 – Four Seasons commissioned Malin to recreate vintage shots at its iconic Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, where silver-screen legends Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bing Crosby and Lana Turner once frolicked. And in light of the recent weather-related devastation in Santa Barbara, Malin is donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of this series to the beautification and restoration of the Montecito community.
Despite evoking a 1960s resort lifestyle, the mood of these images is something anyone can relate to, today or years from now.
“I’m very inspired by the jet-set life of the early 20th century, a time when men wore suits to fly and ladies enjoyed a gimlet or two at lunch,” Malin says. “Upon learning of the luxurious prominence of the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, I could immediately imagine this glamorous period of history. Inspired to capture the essence of a timeless American summer, I enlisted the help of the incredible synchronized dance team the Aqualillies as my muse.”
The 1937 club, with an Olympic-size swimming pool overlooking Butterfly Beach, is as photogenic as ever, thanks to a USD 65 million renovation by architect and designer Peter Marino – known for designing such spaces as the Louis Vuitton Maison Vendôme in Paris and Bulgari London. “The lighting there evokes the South of France, and the art deco designs by Peter Marino and overall Hollywood glam of the space demands the eye’s attention,” Malin says. “Both were key factors in my inspiration around this series. If it hadn’t been for the two, combined with the club’s storied legacy, the direction of the series would have been quite different.”
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Just as Malin intended, each image evokes pure glamour – which Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, with its hourly chaise-side amenities and ocean-facing heated whirlpool, has in spades. “It’s simultaneously reminiscent of yesteryear and effortlessly timeless,” Malin says. “Despite evoking a 1960s resort lifestyle, the mood of these images is something anyone can relate to, today or years from now.”
Malin’s favourite photograph in the series, “The Coral Casino,” depicts the Aqualillies waterside, in repose: “With the ladies sprinkled along the pool and loungers, paired with the pale pink and white umbrellas – it’s just so quintessential to what my vision was.” Timeless indeed.
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