Fashion designer gives De Anza DAR a glimpse into classic chic


By Katharine Dixon

Theater and historical fashion designer Jean Showalter delighted the De Anza Daughters of the American Revolution with custom-tailored historical gowns at the organization’s monthly luncheon meeting held April 5 at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club.

Showalter, owner of Jean Showalter Bridal and Historical Couture in Carlsbad, wore a mixed lace Edwardian coat that required six weeks to make as each piece of lace was hand stitched onto netting fabric. Models wore gowns made by Showalter featuring designs from medieval through Edwardian periods. A restored 1907 antique wedding gown that involved reworking of the existing Battentburg lace and 6,000 beads was worn by Showalter at her own wedding in 1988.

The Daughters celebrated the 80th anniversary of the founding of the De Anza Chapter, which was started in Calpatria by 13 ladies and moved to Encinitas in 1965, presently with 113 members. Martha McCarter, a former Fairbanks Ranch resident now living at La Costa Glen, was recognized for 40 years as a DAR member during which she was Regent of the Pasedena chapter.

In line with the meeting theme of women and history, Martha Gresham spoke to a curious but practical wedding custom from Saxon times brought to New England by early settlers who abided by English Common Law. As all property, debts and liabilities were transferred to the husband at the time of marriage, the bride came to the wedding with nothing, not even clothing on her back. If modesty demanded, she wore a simple smock, draped a sheet, or surrounded herself with handmaidens. One account described a bride married while standing naked in a closet with a hole cut in the door through which she extended only her hand to join her groom’s hand.

Astronaut Judith Resnik, who perished in the 1986 Challenger disaster, was honored as she would have celebrated her 65th birthday on the day of the luncheon. De Anza member and aeronautical engineer Beth Jurecki spoke on the remarkable career of Dr. Resnik, the first Jewish woman and second American woman to fly in space with her first mission in 1984. Jurecki was one of the team leads on the Challenger accident investigation for the final report to NASA, relating the task was important as “lives had been lost, lives were at stake, and I didn’t want this to happen again.”

De Anza 1st Vice Regent Marti Meiners and Chaplin Joanne Dudek welcomed new inductees Ann Carmel, Mary Castro and Kim Miller, and transfer from a St. Louis chapter, Pam Brown. Ann’s ancestor, Thomas Holden, was a Brigadier General with the Rhode Island Militia.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890. Its members are descended from patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 165,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations. Any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership. De Anza Chapter members live in the North County coastal communities from Carmel Valley to Carlsbad. For more information, call Laurel Lemarié, 858-756-2835, or visit