Smashing! For designer Soreyda Benedit-Begley, clothing is better than chocolate

Herald-Leader fashion writerJune 27, 2014 

As a designer and the director of the Lexington Fashion Collaborative, Soreyda Benedit-Begley is passionate about clothes.

On Wednesday, we talked to the 36-year-old mother of three at the Bread Box building. The second floor, next to West Sixth Brewing, will soon be the new home of the Plantory, a creative space for non-profits and community oriented businesses, including the Fashion Collaborative.

Benedit-Begley wore a chic top and skirt of her own design in an earthy palette. But she has a fondness for brighter shades, too.

Growing up in Honduras, she lived in a landscape saturated with colors.

"I come from the tropics, so I've always been surrounded by color and things that are vibrant and exciting," she says. "I go a little wild with color sometimes; I have to hold myself back."

Even as a child, she liked a more elegant look.

"I was the weird kid because I always liked very ladylike things, kind of high-fashion. It was totally different than what the other girls were wearing. They were wearing the jeans and T-shirts, and I wasn't."

In her own designs, she says, she is inspired by nature and patterns.

"I try as much as I can to use natural fibers for environmental reasons. And prints, I love to mix prints," says Benedit-Begley, whose work is on display as part of the Stitching Art exhibit at the Headley-Whitney Museum.

She says her personal style is influenced by the culture of her youth: African, Honduran and Spanish.

When she speaks of fashion, there is a sense of wonder.

"Some people like chocolate; some people like wine. I like clothing," she says. "Clothing, it's just so exciting."

What she wore

Skirt: Linen, one of Benedit-Begley's designs.

Top: Another of her designs, featuring embroidered tulle from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft, and a vintage cotton fabric.

Shoes: BCBG sandals from T.J. Maxx that can be worn with anything, she says. "The color, it kind of goes with my skin tone; it's my neutral."

Earrings: Original design by her friend Jeuarlet McClanahan, a Central Kentucky designer who creates jewelry from bullets.

Bracelets: The sculptural cuff is handmade by an artist in Trinidad and Tobago. It was a gift from her husband, Transylvania University anthropologist Chris Begley, from one of his trips. Her beaded bracelet is from Colombia and was a gift from a friend.

Ring: A peace symbol design from Third Street Stuff. "I've had it for seven years."

Favorite products: Handling fabrics while sewing dries out your hands. "There are some lotions you can put on and some that you can't. ... You can't get oil-based lotions at all," because they might stain the fabric, Benedit-Begley says. "Aveeno is a very good one because it dries. It keeps your hands humid but not oily."

For her hair, she uses shea butter from The Butter Factory, bought at Good Foods Market and Café. "That's the only thing I use, because I have very sensitive skin and I'll break out or get rashes if I use anything with alcohol."

Harriett Hendren: (859) 231-3175. Twitter: @harrietthendren. Email: hhendren@herald-leader.com.

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