Self-assured teen grew up with style; Candid Closet: Latease Hewlett, a sophomore at the College of Notre Dame, believes in expressing her identity through her clothes.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Latease Hewlett, a 19-year-old sophomore at the College of Notre Dame, could model a shower curtain and make it look good. In fact, she has worn a shower curtain -- turned into a snazzy, belted jacket by her uncle, Danny Hewlett -- at a fashion show back in her City College high school days. The curtain, graced with quarter and sixteenth notes and topped off with vintage 45s, would cause even the biggest fashion skeptic to sing in the shower.

When she's not styling on the runway, Hewlett, of North Baltimore, is sweet on designer labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Isaac Mizrahi, Emanuel Ungaro, DKNY and the store, Bebe. On a recent college literary tour to London, Hewlett discovered Harrods, the famed department store. "I called my mother and said, 'You won't believe this store!' " she says.

How did you become so fashion savvy?

I've acquired my style basically from my mother. I remember when I was 4 years old and my mother bought me a fur coat! I guess ever since then, I've just had this feeling, "I'm stylish."

Does your mother share your love of clothing?

Oh, yes, we are the fashion queens! A lot of people don't believe it, but shopping is like a ritual to us. We go shopping almost every day. My father is like, "Please, we don't have any more room!"

Has your mother always allowed you to make your own purchases?

She thought I'm capable of making my own decisions. Basically in high school is where I received most of my freedom. It was a time when people were "finding themselves," and I just said, "I'm unique and I have an image to portray. I express myself through my clothing."

What is that image?

I'm an individualist.

Talk about your Uncle Danny.

My Uncle Danny is like a creator extraordinaire of the century. For that fashion show, he made that shower curtain jacket and he also made a pair of pants and a jacket out of vinyl. He makes it all up. He does not use a pattern. I really wish he would pursue it as a career. His basement is like a little fashion dressing room with a big sewing machine and clothes everywhere. He makes clothes for people at his job and family members.

What did you buy at Harrods?

I bought a sequined sweater with a little teddy bear on the front. I also went to Selfridges, where I bought my mother a two-piece suit and I also bought my sister Alicia a big lime-green Donna Karan purse.

How do you do your hair?

Sometimes I wear braids. Sometimes I get my hair wrapped. Last year, I had my hair cut into a shag. The majority of the time, I like a lot of braids. I like them because they are not time-consuming. You wake up and you go.

How do you afford your buying habits?

My parents spoil my sister and me.

You sound like you're good kids.

That's right. My mother always told me she doesn't mind spending money, because we're really good children and we don't give her any problems. I really appreciate my parents. We're very blessed.

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

Pub Date: 3/25/99

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