High comfort is no secret in clothes ex-catalog model wears these days as a chef


Is there life after modeling for the Victoria's Secret catalog?

If you're Alexa Fong Drubay, you go from donning lingerie to running your own cafe, stopping in between to help run a hotel in China, learn cooking in Paris and marry a ski instructor in Switzerland.

Regardless of your travels, though, one thing remains true -- your eclectic style.

That's how it's been for Ms. Drubay, who currently runs Cafe Drubay with her husband (and former ski instructor) Philippe.

But whether she's wearing chef's whites in her fledgling Cross Keys bistro or attending a party in a Thierry Mugler dress, she says comfort is key.

"I never try to say anything through my clothes," says Ms. Drubay, 32, who lives in Towson. "I just try to trust my instincts."

How has running a cafe affected your dress?

When you work on your feet all day, the most important thing is to have comfortable shoes. Right now I wear a chef's jacket and black jeans or chef's pants. After trying all kinds of shoes, I recently bought a pair of Doc Martens. They're a little clunky, but they're grease- and slip-resistant.

Does it ever get dull?

It does. I tried to wear nicer things at first, but it didn't work. I'm cooking all the time, so I can't wear anything too elegant. I still love clothes, though.

How would you describe your style?

Right now it's boring. My closet is full of things I've had for 10 years. I have an odd mix of classic and fun things. I'm impulsive. If I see something and I'm crazy about it, I'll buy it. Sometimes I go out and I look wild; other times I don't want to attract any attention.

How do you decide?

For instance, if I'm going to the symphony, I'll wear a Christian Dior dress. But if I'm going to the circus, I'll wear my Norma Kamali faux leopard coat and vintage hat with boots.

What's your latest impulse purchase?

Another pair of boots. They're Kenneth Cole lace-up granny boots. They're not practical, but they're beautiful.

Where do you shop?

I'm surrounded by so many stores in Cross Keys. I like Betty Cooke's jewelry and sweaters (at the Store Ltd.) and my husband bought me clothes from Octavia for my birthday. If I need to go to a mall, I usually drop by Towson Town Center.

What mistakes have you made along the way?

In the past, I've tended to be overly materialistic. It's easier now that I'm in a chef's jacket all the time. I once bought a brown leather fringe coat. I only wore it for one season. It went out of style so I sold it. Now it's back in. Somebody out there got a great deal on that coat.

Who most influenced your taste?

My father Howard Fong. He has a beauty salon (He's a partner in Carl's Intercoiffure in Cross Keys). He's informed on the latest trends in hair and fashion. Growing up, he bought me all the fashion magazines -- W, Vogue and Bazaar.

Did that lead you to modeling?

Yes. I modeled from about 1983 to 1990 in New York and Europe. I was a print model -- doing basically bathing suit and lingerie work. I also did the Victoria's Secret catalog.

Really? Were you ever self-conscious about that?

No. I was very fortunate. I was the right size and I didn't have to work too hard at it. Modeling enabled me to travel. But after a while, it got monotonous.

Did that alter your style?

Not really. It gave me a look behind-the-scenes at the work behind the glamour. Even though I've done bathing suit and lingerie modeling, I don't go out in anything that's too low cut or too short. And I wouldn't wear those black lace tops I see everywhere. I'd feel uncomfortable.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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