APPLYING A LONGSTANDING PASSION FOR FASHION, THIS SEASONED RESTAURATEUR HAS REALIZED A NEW GOAL OF CURATING VINTAGE APPAREL
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY AMBER MAHONEY/MARING VISUALS
Glynallyn Castle has been the recipient of ample publicity since the Cetrulo family bought, fully restored, and moved into it over the past five years [see “Fortress Fantasy” in this year’s March/April issue]. The owners, Joseph and Catherine Cetrulo, veterans of the restaurant business, began hosting weddings and other events at this palatial home, which was praised for its idyllic setting, food, and ambience. But there’s more going on at Glynallyn than a wine cellar in a dungeon, secret passageways, and scenic grounds. Upstairs, in a third floor loft space that could easily double for a Common Room at Hogwarts, is the headquarters of an uncommon boutique well suited to its setting. The shop, named And God Created Woman after the 1956 Brigitte Bardot film, is a vintage fashion business that grew from “Cathy” Cetrulo’s love of fashion and her passion for quality garments and accessories from yesteryear.
So rare and prized are Cetrulo’s choice pieces that boldface names, photographers, and magazines are increasingly reaching out to her for red carpet appearances and photo shoots. Her most recent collaboration was a W magazine feature on actress Lily Rose Depp (daughter of Johnny). She sold one of her favorite pieces to Amal Clooney; other customers include Brooke Shields, English model Daisy Lowe, and Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
“I actually had a late start in the vintage fashion world,” the style maven related. “My daughter, Gabriella, was working for Etsy and encouraged me to set up a shop online. My nephew was also getting started as a fashion stylist. When he had one of his first gigs for a music video, he came to me. I curated several vintage pieces from my collection and helped him put the looks together.”
When her nephew began styling for Cardi B., Cetrulo provided vintage Chanel pieces for the rapper’s performance on The Tonight Show. When Gabriella began modeling, another avenue opened up, as fashion photographers began borrowing pieces for their shoots. A look at And God Created Woman’s online inventory of items from the 1920s through the 1980s demonstrates why.
“I have so many amazing theatrical pieces, but one of my treasures is a ’60s Paco Rabanne gold metal dress,” Cetrulo said. “It’s definitely one of my show ponies. One of my other favorites is a pair of ’70s embroidered bell bottom jeans celebrating the movie, Tommy. I also collect amazing designer pieces, including jumpsuits from Betsey Johnson’s ’60s Paraphernalia line as well as her ’80s Punk Face label. I have several ’60s mini wedding dresses, similar to the one Sharon Tate wore to marry Roman Polanski.”
On her Etsy site, which debuted in 2011, “Rare Finds” draw particular attention. Among them is a 1930s/’40s silk satin yellow hand stitched kimono with a blonde mink collar; a museum quality 1994 silk Gianni Versace Couture runway evening gown featured in a Versace exhibit and seen on Naomi Campbell; and a one of a kind 1960s Judith Leiber Etruscan brass fringe necklace worn on the runway.
Cetrulo’s fashion venture began with collecting rare pieces for herself. She quickly realized she had a talent for curating. Soon the hunt was underway, with Cetrulo seeking out singular finds everywhere she traveled, scouring small town shops for hidden treasures, including during trips to visit her son in Arizona.
“I’ve always dreamed of owning a vintage shop but never had the time to pursue it,” she said. “After my children moved out of the house, I began to have space to focus on myself. So I began learning and collecting special vintage pieces in anticipation of one day fulfilling that dream.” She began attending specialized shows, including the Manhattan Vintage Show. “That was it for me,” she said. “I was instantly hooked. I was able to bring my coolest stuff and had an opportunity to meet amazing people. When I’m there, I have a captive audience who loves vintage as much as I do!”
Fellow vendors joined her customer list. Now she hopes to increase the number of shows she attends, including becoming a vendor at the exclusive A Current Affairs shows in Brooklyn and San Francisco. The Manhattan show is where she met Clooney, Shields, Smith, and designer Anna Sui, among others, including a longtime costume designer for Broadway musicals. All were drawn to her vintage pieces.
The Miami native had barely formed her dreams by 1985, when she married Joe. She was just 19 and had spent a year studying business and marketing at Queens College when they moved to Morris Plains and set to work creating a restaurant business. Cathy took on various duties, including creating menus.
“I was juggling being a mother, hostess, baker, and office worker because it was necessary when my husband was getting started as an entrepreneur,” she said. “But it wasn’t my passion. We weren’t able to hire a professional artist, so I enjoyed doing the artwork for the menus.” Today, the family owns Sirena, on the Long Branch boardwalk, as well as Cubacan and Stella Marina in Asbury Park.
The Cetrulos were living in another historic house in Morristown when Glynallyn was completed. They instantly saw potential, despite its need for extensive renovation and restoration. “I absolutely love the space where my shop is located,” said Cetrulo. “It was originally designed as a photography studio. It has great natural light and ample room to display my pieces. I can also photograph them there, which is a really great thing.”
Some items never leave their lair; Cetrulo admits she has “at least 10 pieces I cannot part with,” though she insists she will eventually pass them along to someone who will treasure them as much as she does.
Next up is finding a restored vintage Airstream RV that will enable her to take her vintage show on the road no longer relying on rental trucks and having to carry clothing and accessories, as well as display materials like mannequins, tables, and racks in and out of her Glynallyn showroom.
Meanwhile, the kids are prospering in their own ways. Gabriella, now 33, is a professional illustrator and creative working in New York City. Son Joey, 29, lives in Phoenix, where he’s immersed in his own culinary endeavor the popular Saint Pasta food truck he runs with a friend.
Catherine Cetrulo / And God Created Woman etsy.com/people/afc4life