By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
In “Dressed ,” David Swajeski’s listless profile of the young clothing designer Nary Manivong, a passion for fashion elbows aside every other emotion. Yet even those viewers who share the film’s conviction that preparing a collection for New York Fashion Week is inherently fascinating may lose interest long before the final frock is fitted. That’s not entirely Mr. Swajeski’s fault, though his filmmaking skills are rudimentary at best. He has chosen a subject who is clearly uncomfortable discussing his heart-tugging life story, preferring to rhapsodize about his stylistic vision. Shy and self-effacing, Mr. Manivong can barely look at the camera when recounting his troubled childhood in Columbus, Ohio. Abandoned at 14 by his Laotian parents in 2000, he lived on the streets, often sleeping in an all-night doughnut shop. The years between then and 2007, when the film picks up, remain stubbornly vague (though Mr. Manivong’s former high school principal becomes a critical source of 11th-hour financing). Instead, we follow this designer in the run-up to his 2008 show at Bryant Park, complete with borrowed accessories and fully owned financial woes. As he chooses models and suffers a last-minute loss of his showroom (homelessness is a recurring theme), fashion industry notables pop up to pontificate and advise. “Work like a dog,” says the designer Nanette Lepore. On the evidence of this film, I think Mr. Manivong has that part down.
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- Nary Keng : Cambodia (kiva.org)