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'Seamless'

Motivated by 9-11 and the resultant lack of "priority in shopping," Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America launched a contest designed to support the next generation of garment innovators. Doug Keeve's absorbing documentary follows three of the 10 finalists through their preparations and judging. Though the film is a sober account, the subject alone ensures numerous moments of inspired hilarity. One contestant from Proenza Schouler announces the spring season will be "kind of tropically feeling . . . almost like a little Jackie O.–ish." Later, the Proenza team shows off a signature item: a bleached alligator skin jacket, affordably priced to own at just $29,000 retail—and they've sold six of them! Despite numerous scenes that play like outtakes from Zoolander, Seamless conveys the dedication it takes to eke out a living in an industry where financial success can take decades. Designer Doo Ri Chung stands out in particular; unlike her celebrity-client-schmoozing competition, she toils away in an unglamorous basement beneath her parents' New Jersey dry cleaners (she finds the Garden State's intense boredom more conducive to creativity). Clocking in at a brief 75 minutes, Seamless can only address the surfaces of these struggles. But for an industry consumed with surfaces, that feels oddly appropriate.

 
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