Meet Cathy Paul

Location: New York, NY
Age: Over 50
Marital Status: Single
Education: Degree in Art History and International Finance from New York University

Even as a teenager growing up in New York, petite Cathy Paul was “obsessed with fabric (‘I love swatches’), color and cut,” she says. She’d spend happy hours window-shopping up and down Madison Avenue to carefully examine the couture fashion…

Today, Cathy has a natural affinity for mixing styles, patterns and textures. You can spot her from blocks away: Her intense red hair, high heels, funky glasses and artistic combination of colors are consistently eye catching. Cathy manages to exquisitely pull it all off.

Who influenced your style?

I’ve always been inspired by what people were wearing in the media and the movies. I take something I like and make it my own. When I saw the black and white sharkskin suit Al Pacino wore in The Godfather I and II, I had to find the fabric and have a coat dress made.

Who are your favorite designers?

The cut of Gucci jackets when Tom Ford was there, Dolce & Gabbana for skirts, Armani, Versace for summer, and Timothy Everest, the tailor I’ve used in London since 1997 (

When Timothy creates something wonderful, I’ll sometimes have him make the same piece in three different fabrics.

I have to have a symbiotic relationship with a designer. I love Lacroix’s fabrics, colors and sense of extravagance. He sneaks in seductive details. Dolce is structured, sexy and colorful.

How your style changed over the years?

More focused.

Do you have a signature piece of clothing?

Blazers when they have sexy fabrics and fit. Pointy toe, high-heeled shoes with ankle straps and open sides. Could be from any designer. I like to wear evening shoes in the daytime. I hate heavy shoes.

I’m obsessed with emerald green because of my red hair.

Is anything a no-no?

I never wear pants because I’m short and my legs are my best feature.  It’s okay just as long as you see my legs below the knee. I don’t like exposed zippers on anything.

Beauty routine?

Dior’s L’Or de Vie, La Creme. It’s wonderful. I’m allergic to everything and this doesn’t irritate my skin at all. It’s made with a rare wine called Chateau D’Yquem, and it makes my skin smooth and gives a wonderful finish.

What’s your secret favorite spot in New York?

Sitting on the terrace of The Maritime Hotel and pretending I’m in Miami.

 Favorite restaurant?

Sakagura sake bar near Grand Central Station because it looks like a spy restaurant; John Dory for the décor and fish, and Park Avenue (Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall) for the ambience, whatever the season.

Signature lipstick?

Nouba from Takashimaya. I like their bricks, browns and oranges.

Great book you’ve read?

I’m always buying books and never read them.

Biggest indulgence?

Champagne, especially Bollinger, Dom Ruinart, Blanc de Blanc and Veuve Cliquot; Euro magazines. I often go to Universal News on 56th Street and buy them out when I find a new one on lifestyle, interiors or fashion.

Do you have a favorite perfume?

Cartier Panthere is my most favorite, but also like Essence by Narciso Rodrigues and some male fragrances like Eau Sauvage by Dior.

How do you rejuvenate?

A bath, sometimes more than one.

Passion project?

Collecting fabulous vintage jewelry. I’m addicted. I love old plastic pieces, but there’s no resale value in that. I search all the antique shows and buildings around New York, like The Showplace Antique and Design Center on West 25th Street. My friend Eric just opened Antique Reflections there.

I also like Chrome Hearts silver jewelry.

Who inspires you?

I inspire myself, but there’s always something on TV or in the media that grabs me.

Do you decorate your home like you dress?

My apartment is eclectic with a neo classical “grande tour” feeling, Biedermeier and American Empire furniture with quirky accents, animal pillows and feathers, old photos and paintings and etchings.

My kitchen looks like the Soviet space ship the Mir, retro techno slate grey and steel. Living room is dark green and bedroom is yellow. The rooms are filled with lots of books and interesting antiques. The bedroom looks like a cross between Bergdorf Goodman, Rizzoli and the stock room of the magazine store, a bit Grey Gardens

I’ve bought furniture at the Pier, at Niall Smith and Christie’s.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?

Make money, but have fun making it. Your co-workers are far more important to this than you ever imagine. If you have at least one co worker you really bond with you will probably be more productive and achieve more with less stress. If you have a co worker you bond with and share a sense of humour with even if they 20 years younger, you will look forward to coming to work.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about money?

It comes and goes. I’ve gone from choosing between spending my last dime on bread or a newspaper to buying Dior. And if you buy jewelry, buy gold. That’s the lesson I learned in 1991, which proved to be the worst recession I have been through.

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Meet Wendy Foster

Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Age: 69
Marital Status: Married
Education: My real education was traveling around the world by myself for 10 years, where I learned different languages and cultures. It was amazing. I always have a big dictionary next to my bed, and I still LOVE to learn!

Wendy Foster “brought style to Santa Barbara,” declared the Santa Barbara Independent in 2008. Foster spent her 20s and 30s traveling the world, supporting herself every which way, including as a UNESCO ambassador in Paris and a chef in Israel. It wasn’t until she was almost 40 that she started her fashion career, opening her first boutique in Santa Barbara and modeling it on her own closet…

Today she owns four trendsetting clothing stores in the city: Wendy Fosterand Sportswear in Montecito’s Upper Village, Angel on Coast Village Road, and Wendy Foster on State Street.  But, “I’m still off what the normal person wears in Santa Barbara, I think,” says Foster. “Some of my favorite designers won’t sell here!”Foster’s local empire also includes husband Pierre Lafond’s two vineyards, a bistro, a gourmet market, and a home accessories store.

How do you define your personal style?

Strong and soft. I’m thin, but tall—5’9”—so I have a strong look about me. I wear strong things but I soften it by wearing subdued neutrals.

Do you have a signature look?

I mostly always wear Sofie D’Hoore cotton pants and a Johnny Farah belt and t-shirt with a sweater. I don’t have a lot of clothes. The less you have, the more creative you can be.

Who are your favorite designers?

Dries Van Noten, Sofie D’Hoor and Yojhi Yamomoto—although I can’t fit into Yamomoto because it’s made for smaller women. Dries has always been my favorite because his clothes are inspired by different cultures. He’s been a bit off his mark the past few seasons, but this year he’s gone to Japan and India so I can’t wait to see what he does.

Peachoo and Krejberg is a new love—they’re from Paris and they remind me of Ann Demulemeester. I could never sell her here—she was too edgy for Santa Barbara.

Any style no-nos?

A Dirndl miniskirt, a baby doll top or an Orlon poncho. Dirndl skirts make you look fat unless you’re bone thin. And baby doll tops are always pushed on older women, even though they’re for babies. I encourage my customers to take chances and not get stuck in one style. Just because you’re an old lady, doesn’t mean you have to dress like one.

What has influenced your style most?

Living in Israel, Paris and England. I lived on a Kibbutz in Israel and actually had a restaurant in Tel Aviv in the 1970s. Arab culture taught me take chances in my life and my style. I love British style for the knits and handmade quality. I subscribe to Selvedge—a British magazine that teaches you how to craft and where to buy fabrics.

Who inspires you?

Christina Kim—a clothing and housewares designer with a little store in New York called Dosa. She’s a fabric nut and a color genius. She travels all over the far east discovering beautiful things and then helps set up local women in business making them. She pays a fair wage and makes sure everything is produced “green.” I just love her.

Favorite/signature shoes?

Boots from Prada and Ann Demulemeester.

What is your beauty routine?

Lemon Verbena soap and lots of sunscreen.

Signature lipstick?

Fire Down Below by Nars. I like it because of the name, which is fun, and because it is a dry sort of lipstick, and it doesn’t run into the lines on my lips as easily as a softer lipstick.

What’s the last great book you read and want to recommend?

Alice Monroe’s Too Much Happiness. A FABULOUS book of short stories. Oh, My God. What a wonderful writer. I got it for a gift, and I had never read her before. Now I think of all the old ones just waiting for me. Oh Boy!

Favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara?

I have two favorite restaurants. The first one is an old fashioned luncheonette which has been in Montecito as long as I can remember. It has wonderful food, and is frequented by the locals. It has plain old good American food. A BLT to die for, and wonderful Cole slaw.

My REAL favorite restaurant is my husband’s in downtown Santa Barbara: Pierre Lafond’s Bistro. They have fresh baked whole wheat bread and flat breads, which are topped with pesto, tomatoes—things like that—plus a lot of great vegetarian star dishes, as Pierre is a complete vegetarian.

Favorite wine/drink?

My husband’s wine! We’ve been married since 1973, and he owns the first wineries in Santa Barbara since prohibition. It’s the only serious winery in Santa Barbara.

What are you most passionate about.

My garden. I bought a parking lot in downtown Santa Barbara thirty years ago, and now I travel all over California collecting oddball plants to grow there.

Greatest indulgence?

Playing the piano. I’ve been taking lessons for 40 years.

Favorite secret spot in SB?

The Frog Theatre on the Riviera. It’s a super secret place where people leave little frog statues all over a stone wall—sort of like a shrine. It’s glorious, and only the locals know about it.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?

If I worked harder than anyone thought was possible, then I MIGHT succeed. And if I LOVED what I was doing at the same time, it doubled my chances.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about money?

It is very hard to come by, and very easy to spend. You have to watch your costs like a hawk.

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