The learning curve, from Paris to Baltimore

Candid Closet

August 06, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Amy Gjerde is that culinary rarity: a willowy chef. A former model, she exchanged Paris runways for cooking school in Baltimore and found her first restaurant job at Bolton Hill's jr. as an assistant baker.

There, she also met Spike Gjerde, whose restaurant, Spike & Charlie's, spawned jr. They've been married 11 months, and Gjerde's wardrobe hasn't been the same since.

What impact did life in Paris have on your sense of style?

I grew up in York, Pa., where dressing options were limited. In Paris, I would go to young designers and established designers. Being there makes you aware of different ways to wear clothing, things I wouldn't have been introduced to in York. Still, I keep to classic lines, nothing outrageous. The one thing I did change, I became more aware of what looks good on me. And I developed a lot more confidence in wearing things. That was the biggest impact that modeling had on me.

Do you remember any particular outrageous fashion shows that you did?

I did a Gianni Versace show where they made us wear bobbie socks with little shorts and a pink sweater. I also did this Paris designer, Jean-Charles De Castelbajac, who designed alpine clothing. I had this large sweater, a large dress, with five or six layers of clothing and these braids.

How do you choose your clothing now?

My husband does.

Where do you shop?

We go everywhere; we go down to Saks Fifth Avenue and we also go to C-Mart. Sometimes, we find the best things at C-Mart. I just got some stuff there last week; I found this little black Armani sweater.

How does Spike influence your style?

A while ago, we were shopping at King of Prussia. We went there with my mom, and at Nordstrom we found a Donna Karan top, something I never ever would have picked out. It was long enough to be a dress, but I wear it scrunched up, and it's very different, very mature. I think that one thing made me think of clothes again in a different way. The piece goes off your shoulder a little bit. It's kind of disco.

What do you wear for work?

I work in the kitchen and out front. When I'm baking, khakis and a white shirt. Out front, some kind of black skirt, dresses, whatever's comfortable. We have a liberal dress code here at jr. We wear what we like.

How do you compare Baltimorean fashion to Parisian fashion?

The basis is the same; you get used to what you're brought up in. In Baltimore, there is a lot of Gap and Banana Republic. In Paris, they have a lot of small designers, so everything doesn't have to be expensive haute couture.

Do you think there is a demand in Baltimore for more variety?

Absolutely. A lot of people drive to different areas. We are a little bit limited as far as clothes go in this area. You have to look for it.

Is Spike attentive to his own attire?

He's very stylish. Very aware. When he bought his suit to get married in, we had to shop forever. We found it at Saks in Chevy Chase. And in France, where we got engaged, he got this really cool yellow jacket by Yves St. Laurent at a shop that sells designer clothing at bargain prices. He's very cool.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 8/06/98

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