Model employee always on her feet

CANDID CLOSET

Candid Closet: LoAnn Dellis, who worked on the runway, in print and in commercials, now stands for long stretches at her family's business, Michael's Cafe in Timonium.

March 09, 2000|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

In her previous life as a model in Baltimore department stores and Cross Keys boutiques, LoAnn Dellis learned what it was like to stand for long stretches, work hard and look great for the duration. Now, during 14-hour days at her family business, Michael's Cafe in Timonium, she puts those lessons to good use. Dellis, 46, who also managed to have three children, greets customers in understated tailored suits. She's not faddish but smartly accessorized.

The Phoenix resident's dress-down time comes early in the week, when business is a bit slower, and by the weekend she's in full fashion mode. One of the best things about the restaurant world is its flexibility, Dellis says. She chooses what to wear "depending on the weather and my mood. The most important thing are shoes. I just try to wear something comfortable and will bring an extra pair of shoes to switch off later in the day."

What kind of modeling did you do?

I did informal modeling at Octavia and Ruth Shaw and runway for Macy's and Hecht's, some print and commercials. I also taught at the Barbizon School for 15 years.

Would you be able to get that kind of work now?

Things have changed. There is no market now, as far as modeling goes, for me. I'm not that tall, 5-5. Back then, I could get away with it, as a regular-to-petite model.

What's the state of fashion in Baltimore?

It is limited here. I do go to New York, at least once or twice a year. I go with a bunch of girlfriends. My goal is to get one or two great-looking jackets or suits, something special, rather than buy something trendy.

Where do you shop in Manhattan?

I love Fifth Avenue, which I could only recently afford. And I go to Soho. I love shopping in boutiques vs. big department stores. There's not as much clutter and more one-of-a-kind pieces.

Describe a favorite one-of-a-kind acquisition.

I have a great pair of leather pants from Paris that I found in a Las Vegas boutique.

Is there anything you won't wear to work?

I'll be honest. I'm in the kitchen a lot, not just up front. There are a couple of things I won't wear; for instance, a St. John's suit I love. I will wear suede, but that's really stupid. When I go to the dry cleaners, it's really obvious to them where I work.

What holds up best under spills?

Wools and cottons work well. And I wear lot of black, which doesn't show spills as much. I loved black even as a child, but my mother never let me wear it.

What kind of shoes get you through long days?

I do wear something with a heel; usually a chunky heel, two inches or so. And ankle boots seem to be comfortable. No high heels; I'd kill myself.

What kind of accessories do you lean toward?

I love scarves and belts, and I have a collection of both. You'd be surprised how you can change an outfit with a great looking belt or a wonderful scarf.

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

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