“This is not a fad. This is nothing like the old psychedelic scene. We are not interested in all that. This is a much more spiritual thing. We are more interested in the inner experience.” Cathy (Werner) Scarms, Los Angeles Times, 1967.
Forty years ago, Cathy Scarms and her then husband, Marc Werner, started a boutique clothing shop in Westwood, CA specializing in handmade “kurtas” the loose collarless shirts and wide leg pants with a drawstring, made in the classic eastern Indian style. Cathy explains, “ We decided to make the kurtas because they were loose, comfortable clothes for meditation and fun to wear. We made them in bright paisley print colors. We came up with the name for the shop, ‘Designs Because of Sat Purush’ because we wanted it to have an East Indian name with spiritual overtones. Sat Purush means “Creator” or “Supreme Being” and since we believed (and I still do) in a higher power and followed an eastern philosophy, we thought it was the perfect name for the shop. The mid 60’s were the beginning of a spiritual growth in our country and our shop seemed to be the center for the L.A. area. Designs Because Sat Purush was not just a place to buy cool clothes but a place for people to come together and share ideas and philosophies.”
The store was featured in Look magazine, Life magazine and Women’s Wear Daily and Fashion Week. There was a parade of celebrities including George Harrison, the Monkees, The Byrds, Jim Morrison, Buddy Rich and his band, along with other movie & music industry people coming in and out of the boutique wanting their clothes as well as their huge handmade pillows.
One hugely popular band, The Strawberry Alarm Clock wore kurtas made by Cathy and her store during all of their performances, including their first TV appearance on American Band Stand and movies “Psych” starring Jack Nicholson and “Beyond Valley of the Dolls.” The band relied on Cathy’s store to produce their entire stage wardrobe and even shot their album cover photo at DBofSP. Author Michael Ochs featured the photo in his best selling book, “1000 Record Covers.” The outfits were a pinnacle in the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s initial recognition and to this day the band and the clothes are intertwined.
Fast Forward (OK, not so fast forward) to 2007…
Cathy Scarms gets a call from a reunited Strawberry Alarm Clock. “We’re back together and performing live, and we need kurtas!” After giving it some thought, Cathy decided it could be done and also that it would be fun. “I started making the patterns from scratch, searching for the right fabrics and sewing from my home. I’ve come full circle forty years later.” In September of 2007 the Strawberry Alarm Clock performed in a musical in San Diego called Love In: A Musical Celebration, a theatrical performance of the music of 1967. At that show and from the stage the band publicly acknowledged how Cathy and her clothes played an important role in the success of the band.
With renewed interest in her handmade kurtas, Cathy Scarms has created a Web site and is accepting orders online. She says, “I think people are looking for fun, comfortable clothes. The spiritual growth in this country is reemerging and people are seeking that calming and comfortable feeling. The time is ripe for the kurta to make a comeback!”