Fashion Forward

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

Of course part of the fun of an open call is that you see stuff you just don't see anyplace else. Maryann Scandiffio brings a bead-studded, stainless steel handbag called a crazy clutch that looks like a demented birdcage and comes with interchangeable linings; Deacon Yu's leather pouches include an item that is sort of a sleeve attached to a belt. When it is pointed out that this is nothing so much as an old-fashioned muff, Yu says, Oh no, it's a handwarmer. (Could this be because men don't carry muffs?) Why did Yu, a math major who actually thinks fashion is a practical career move, name his business Nneuhs? He answers in a flash: because it was easy to trademark.

Just as the editors are popping the last canapés in their mouths and getting ready to bundle up, Joel Alexander Morales flies through the door, laptop in tow. Annoyance—who feels like looking at a computer screen now?—turns to admiration when Morales, who was in town from Florida, sample-less, when he heard about the open call, starts clicking. Among the treasures the PC yields are a dress made of real dollar bills—"About $180 worth, and yeah, I took it apart and spent them"—a flurry of voluminous party frocks made from paper bags, and even an outfit that was once a table. Morales seems to be speaking for all of Forward's hopefuls, and for young designers everywhere, when he looks at the panel without a trace of irony and says, "You know, you can just go out and get a table and put it on."

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