It was the early 1950s. The world was in the midst of a fashion renaissance. World War II had ended not long ago and fashion was in transition. New fabrics and techniques were invented as people created new styles and silhouettes. In Paris, Dior launched the ‘vertical line’, also known as the sheath dress.
In 1956, Givenchy gave life to the ‘Oriental look’, and then American Broadway musicals such as My Fair Lady and other Hollywood hits heralded the return of the classics—silk, satin, chiffon.
In Trinidad, a young boy, Freddie Leiba, was tuning into the worldwide fashion revolution right from his mother’s living room in Belmont, West Trinidad.
He was fascinated with style and admired his mother’s skill on the sewing machine while she created beautiful dresses for her clients each night. Leiba would sit and sketch his own designs, wondering when his big break in the world of fashion would come.
Then came that pivotal moment in his life: he was walking around the Savannah one day, a few blocks from the Queen’s Park Hotel, a popular fixture in Port of Spain in the 1950s.
A beautiful woman with red hair was walking out of the hotel, her yellow sheath dress blowing in the wind. She was Hollywood film star Rita Hayworth.