by Jesma Reynolds
photographs by Travis Dove
Long established in the world of Raleigh fashion, Alex Henriquez Long got her start as a store manager, then as an owner of Beanie + Cecil in Cameron Village. After a 14-year stint, she recently became an events coordinator at Ladyfingers Caterers, saying it’s a natural extension of years helping with events both in her family’s business and her women’s boutique. “My family went from Egypt to Cuba to Puerto Rico to Raleigh owning restaurants and working hard. They will never stop opening restaurants! My 80-year-old uncle is still in the kitchen. I was the only one who snuck away from the restaurant biz and followed fashion until this year. I feel like I’m back in that biz again.”
Alex’s family moved from California to Raleigh when she was 7, and she spent her formative years helping out at their downtown restaurants Est! Est! Est! and Piccolo Mondo. (Her family now owns Cafe Tiramisu.) A graduate of Broughton High School and N.C. State University, she hasn’t strayed from her hometown for the past 26 years except for a brief departure to Colorado to “get it out of my system.” She and husband David, along with their 4-year-old son D, have lived in Boylan Heights for the past eight years and “continue to enjoy the changes of downtown living.”
To keep a hand in fashion, Alex, who is 35, and a friend are working a a new style blog, www.stylehawk.net, “for fun.”
Define your personal style.
Authentic, simple, classic with a bit of an edge.
What about your style roots? Who influenced you growing up?
My grandmother, Apollonia DeMartino. She always told me to be myself and to never worry about what other people are doing or what they think. Perhaps a bit harsh…but very true to her Italian roots. I practice these words of wisdom in my everyday life, and I think it definitely comes through in my style. I wear what I love, what feels comfortable and I stay away from trends.
What are the three top pieces you own?
My vintage engagement ring, my leather messenger bag, and a Smythe hooded wrap coat in classic black.
What are your everyday go-tos?
A perfect white tee, Katie Diamond turquoise studs, and I can’t live without my MiH high-waisted jeans.
What’s the oldest piece in your closet?
A 1960s dress worn by the late jazz singer Georgia Gibbs, which I wore as my wedding dress.
Any pieces from your family you currently wear?
I have inherited a wonderful collection of different pieces that belonged to my grandmother. I love to work her vintage pieces of jewelry, clutches, belts and watches into my wardrobe.
What’s your advice for paring down/editing a wardrobe?
It’s not about quantity or big ticket items for me. I also like mixing high and low. Edit your closet at least once a year, and each season take an inventory of your key pieces, make a shopping list of what you need and would like to add for that season. It may include updating a few basics or maybe it’s a single item that you have been dreaming about. Knowing what you have, getting rid of pieces that are out of date or don’t properly fit will make getting dressed each morning more fun and less of a hassle.
If you could raid anyone’s closet whose would it be?
Kate Moss’s closet, without a doubt. Her style is natural and effortlessly cool. I love how she wears that one unexpected piece. In the words of Moss herself, “Clothes go in and out of fashion, but that’s not style. Style has to be classic.”