Special to South Florida Times
While most 71-year-old people are retired, Lileth Hogarth is still spending her time leaving a mark on vogue by creating styles that exudes two words: red carpet.
A designer all her life, this vibrant and imaginative fashionista picked up her eye for avant-garde perhaps by watching her mother sew clothes for family and neighbors in her home of Jamaica. At age 4, she began making clothes for her baby doll.
“You’re never dead until you’re dead,” Hogarth opines. “And you should keep your dream alive as long as you are alive. I figure at this age every day I wake up life just begins, so why not do it?”
On a recent Saturday afternoon at the Environ Cultural Center in Lauderhill, Hogarth unveiled some of her favorite pieces and granted a sneak peek into her closet filled with the couture made popular by socialites, models and celebrities.
The showing was sponsored by the Lauderhill Chamber of Commerce, of which she is a member.
“One of the things we always want to do is support and promote our members and, so, we’re proud to come behind this, especially being that part of the proceeds benefits the American Cancer Society,” said John Beckford, the chamber’s executive director. “It only makes sense that we embrace and support an event like this.”
With the economic downturn causing shoppers to retreat and stores to worry, the decline does not mean that the younger generation doesn’t appreciate the impressive walking art. Avant-garde style is all about developing a personal sense of style that separates one from everyone else; it continues to flourish on the frames of First Lady Michelle Obama, pop star Lady Gaga and R&B singer Beyonce.
And Hogarth does not disappoint. With designs that are modern and structured, her daring and unique creations are a mix of dresses and gowns that feature bare shoulders, popping bosoms, long gloves, feathered headdresses and hats that women are inclined to wear to bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, charity balls, other black-tie affairs, prom and homecoming.
“My clothes have to be different. It can’t be like anyone else’s. Even though I am inspired by European designers, I will do something totally different,” Hogarth said in a recent interview. “I’m not afraid of putting colors together.”
The Lauderhill resident brought something completely unexpected to the show: fierceness. The models strode the stage in an interesting mix of color and fabrics, silk, satin and lace stitched alone or combined in long-flowing, fitted, detailed or flirty elegant evening wear that accentuate curves and allow a woman’s sensuality to come through.
Sharon Trepiccion, past president of the chamber, was among attendees who were impressed.
“For me, at 42 years old, there’s a lot of pieces there that I would wear,” she said. “For a person that’s my senior to be designing stuff for those younger than I am … there’s definitely clothes there that I would wear — except the wedding dresses. No more weddings for me.”
Hogarth draws on her extensive experience at boutiques such as David’s Bridal, Zola Keller, and Susan Rose to create a wedding gown collection that features the untraditional. Sleek to full, pleated to ruffled, floor-length to mile-long, the dresses, decorated with detailed appliqué of sequins and beads, will be a memorable start to any bride’s new beginning.
“I went down to the Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica last June with designers from all over the Caribbean,” said Beckford. “Seeing what I saw tonight with Lily’s Couture, she is right up there with some of the top designers across the Caribbean.”
• For more information on Lileth Hogart’s designs, visit lilystreasures.com.
Tracy-Ann Taylor may be reached at TaylTra9@aol.com.