March 23rd, 2020 / posted by paularath

Messy closet #1

Since Jerry and I are self-quarantined in our home, I decided to pay a little more attention than I usually do to the state of this place we love.

My goal: to work on, or preferably complete, one task each day that will contribute to the care and cleanliness of our home. A few examples:

Polish silver: check

Clean screens and louvers: check

Scrub and wax the spa: waiting for a sunny day, and we live in the rain forest

Clean and “edit” the drawers, and refresh the drawer liners throughout the house: in progress

Clean my closets: auwe!

Messy closet #2

There’s a lot of psychology captured in a closet.

Oh, the guilt and dread for the clothes I never wear:

  • the yellow cardigan I bought when I was in a blue mood and thought maybe a bright and cheery garment would help, although the color makes my skin look green
  • the size 4 designer jeans I was convinced would fit one day when I lost a few pounds (they’re the ones with the tags still on)
  • the tie dye hippie skirt I wore to the Rolling Stones concert…and never again

Then there are the emotional attachments to things I’ve worn countless times because, well, they just make me feel good about myself, even though some pieces are 40 years old:

  • the red silk suit I wore when I pitched three new clients, and they all hired me (oh well, so the jacket has a few stains)
  • the dress, now droopy and sad, that made everyone say “Have you lost weight?”
  • the relaxed palaka tunic that makes me feel like a day at the beach (Oh, why didn’t I buy three of those when I had the chance?)

That’s why cleaning my closet is the most difficult task of all. It forces me to face my fears and flaws.

And you know what? It hasn’t become easier with age, so the accumulation can be appalling.

Paula Rath


March 12th, 2020 / posted by paularath

Frederic Fekkai, around the time I knew him.

Back in the day, around 20 years ago, I was the fashion writer for The Honolulu Advertiser. (Until, sigh, the newspaper closed.) It was the perfect job for me, as I was both a writer and a fashion designer.

I also had a weekly segment called “Island Style” on the Channel 2 Morning News with Leslie Wilcox and Ron Mizutani. That was a great gig also.

Having both a fashion print column and a fashion TV segment meant that I got first dibs on all the major Hawaii fashion stories, as well as interviews with the big name beauty experts and celebrities who came to Honolulu. The PR people would call me first because they wanted to get print and TV coverage for their clients.

It was great to interview and spend time with people such as Isabella Rossellini, Paloma Picasso, Anna Sui, Laura Mercier and Frederic Fekkai.

Island Life, The Honolulu Advertiser, June 13, 2000. Sorry about the distortion from the crease in the newsprint!
Photos by Jerry Mayfield

I wrote several stories about Frederic, as he visited Neiman Marcus Ala Moana often in the early aughts to introduce his eponymous hair care line to Hawaii. He is one of the most charming, elegant, tasteful and creative people I have ever met.

On one of his visits, I even got to have him cut my hair on live TV while he taught some of his styling secrets to the cosmetology students at Honolulu Community College. It was my best haircut ever, full of bounce and shine.

When Jerry listened to my interview with Isabella Rossellini, he said “That’s a giggle fest!” And so it was. She was in Honolulu for DFS to promote her fragrance, Manifesto.

You may remember Frederic’s life became very public when he dated an A-list heiress for awhile. Then he disappeared to a more private existence, and I lost touch with him.

So it was a pleasure to see him recently in a magazine story with his gorgeous wife, model Shirin von Wulffen. They are living in Aix-en-Provence, where Frederic has roots , and they have started a new line of fragrance. It’s called Bastide, and it’s made in Grasse, France. Find it at

Fragrance has been an important part of my life since I was 16, when Huddy, my maternal grandmother, gave me my first bottle of perfume. It was White Shoulders. Now I never leave the house without fragrance, and my home is usually filled with fragrance as well.

The Bastide fragrance sampler set

Since I love Fekkai’s sense of style, as well as his hair products, I had to try Bastide. They offer a set of samples called  “Les Sept Merveilles” with seven very different fragrances in it.

The set is $30, and is good toward a $30 savings on your first purchase. It does, however, cost $10 for shipping.

I liked a couple of the fragrances, but my favorite is Neroli Lumiere. It’s simply delicious and my husband and son love it on me. I have to have it, and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival in my mailbox!

Paula Rath

Laura Mercier is a bit shy, but she overcomes her shyness to talk about skin care and makeup.


March 9th, 2020 / posted by paularath

Clearing the “jungle” begins. Yes, that’s our neighbors’ house and we are blocking the entire driveway. Lucky they’re at work all day!

You may have noticed I haven’t written a travel blog in awhile. Jerry and I decided to focus a year or so on our home and get some major stuff done. Major stuff such as refinishing the chocolate eucalyptus floors (pau!), re-roofing the house (pau!), installing new rain gutters (pau!), checking and cleaning our 30 solar panels (pau!) and, last week, trimming all the trees and cutting back the rainforest as it creeps toward the house.

The deck view before tree trimming.

We live, literally, in the rainforest. We love it and don’t want to live anywhere else. But oh my, how things grow – and overgrow – here!

For a number of years we chose to let the trees grow high around the deck. We liked to feel as though we were living in a tree house. Then, about ten years ago, we tried cutting the trees so we could see across the valley, with wider vistas of the Koolau Mountains. We loved it! Now every few years we trim everything so we can get that lovely view back.

The “before” view looking up the valley.


The view from our deck is most beautiful when the mysterious mist plays over the mountains. But today it’s clear.

It’s especially beautiful in the evenings, when we can look down toward town and see the soft remnants of a tropical sunset, and can look up the valley and see the moonrise and the mist as it encloses the Koolaus.

Jerry loves to sit on the deck in the early evening and write a bit of poetry. (Yes, he writes poetry!)

The view from my office mid-trimming.

The back yard also requires quite a bit of cutting back. Multiple varieties of ferns, ginger and other plants grow like crazy. My office has a complete view of the back yard, which has a Japanese berm with rocks, a rock “stream,” and a tropical “backdrop.”

On the side of the house, an area which no one sees unless we’re picking herbs together, the hau constantly crawls creepily toward the house, threatening to “eat up” my herbs. It’s the most difficult thing to control, along with its “buddy,” heliconia. The hau has sort of attacked us from the neighbor’s vacant lot.

So the trees and forest got a nice trim, and we thoroughly enjoyed the view. Then, last night, the wind picked up and, well, see for yourself:

Fallen tree in our backyard

On the roof, but not on the solar panels

…but it’s okay, no damage, even to the new roof and rain gutters. We suspect this fishtail palm was being protected by some of the trees we had trimmed, and without the protection, the wind came straight at it and knocked it down. It was never very sturdy, as it wasn’t supposed to grow that tall.

But oh well, we will deal with it. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the views.

Here’s one of the views that inspired Jerry to write a poem. This is the view back toward the Koolau Mountains as the moon rises, taken just a few days ago.

As the moon rises and the sun sets over our deck…                       Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Another reason we are lucky we live in Hawaii!

Next up on this blog (and I promise it won’t be so long between blogs this time):

  • Where in the world is Frederic Fekkai these days?
  • Cleaning my closet is the hardest task I undertake within my house. Here’s some closet psychology to help me (and perhaps you too) survive this task.

Paula Rath


February 13th, 2020 / posted by paularath

Who knew indigo can survive an icy winter?

Well, hey, it can! That is, if it’s in the hands of an indigo expert who is determined to keep his craft going through the long winters in Cooperstown, New York.

The man who introduced me to indigo, Darius Homay, has moved to a much colder clime, Cooperstown. Snow and ice are frequent backyard visitors. Nothing like the warm tropical climate in Honolulu where Darius developed his passion for indigo.

Yet he still manages to hold “Indigo Days” behind his home.

How? He bought some trough heaters like the ones used to keep water thawed for farm animals. “It’s like a giant immersion heater,” he explained.

An indigo piece ready for a studio sink.

After achieving the desired shade in the indigo vat, it will be taken inside the house to one of the enormous sinks in Darius’ studio. I’m so jealous of his current students, and so grateful to Darius for introducing me to the magic of indigo.

Here’s one of the pieces I recently created with fabrics dyed with indigo and rust. It’s inspired by my North Shore summers when we began our holidays with a visit to the rock at Waimea Bay for a dashing jump. Did you jump off the rock too?

“Waimea Bay Summer: Jump!,” 20″ x 30″ on gallery wrap canvas

  • Paula Rath



January 1st, 2020 / posted by paularath

North Shore Surf’s Up, Pauahi Tower, 30 x 40″

If friends have noticed I haven’t seemed totally engaged with the holiday season this year, it’s true.

Something else has been much on my mind: textile art. I wouldn’t say I have been obsessing over it, but, well, it has occupied a chunk of my waking hours. I have been working on three pieces I hope will be accepted for a Hawaii Handweaver’s Hui show at Pauahi Tower in Bishop Square downtown. (I will find out on Saturday if they get in.)

South Shore Summer, Pauahi, 30 x 40″

These top three photos are the pieces I hope you will be seeing at Pauahi Tower after January 6.

Sand and Sea Series, Pauahi, 16 x 20″ each, set of 6

In addition, Punahou Carnival asked me to bring in three new pieces, so I have been working pretty hard getting all six pieces pau. The last three works (seen below) will be for sale at the Punahou Art Gallery during Punahou Carnival on February 7-8.

I always struggle with what to call these works. It would be simple if they were paintings, but they aren’t. Some say they look like paintings, but there is absolutely no paint on them, except for the borders on the gallery wrap canvases. Yes, they are all done on canvas, just like oil or acrylic paintings. But again, there’s no paint there. I use only naturally dyed fibers such as silk organza, linen, cotton, silk charmeuse, raw silk and some unusual fiber blends from Japan and Korea that contain metals.

Waimea Bay Summer: Jump!, Punahou, 20 x 30″ framed

Most of the fabrics I dye with indigo or rust, but I have also used Kakishibu (a Japanese dye made from fermented persimmons) for some darker details.

I no longer have access to an indigo vat on a regular basis, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep this process going. I even find myself short of workable rusty detritus these days! Who would have ever thought it would be hard to find rusty junk that dyes effectively?

Secret Cove, Punahou, 20 x 30″

This final work is a little different, as it’s part of my “Bowls of Blessings” series. They incorporate paint, as well as hand dyed fibers and papers. This series began with a three-part piece called “Myanmar Monks’ Blessings,” which was inspired by the beautiful colors of the monks robes that change with their religious growth from novice to abbot, ochre to maroon. This most recent one honors the people of Puna who have been struggling in recent years.

Prayers for Puna, Punahou, 36 x 36″

Please come to Pauahi Tower sometime between January 6 and July 6 to see the many works of Hawaii’s Handweavers….and, hopefully, me  If you want to see an explosion of local art, don’t miss the Punahou Carnival Gallery, which has an amazing amount of art for sale in a single weekend, February 7-8.

Paula Rath