Dressed


By Abby and Elle

Somehow we missed Dressed at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2011, but we were lucky enough to catch it at the Cleveland Museum of Art last week as part of Fashion Week Cleveland.

From left: Sunny, David, Elle, Nary and Abby

From left: Sunny, David, Elle, Nary and Abby

Dressed is the name of a documentary, directed and produced by David Swajeski, about Nary Manivong, a young New York-based fashion designer originally from Columbus, Ohio. The twist to Nary’s story is that when he was 14, he and his twin brother and two younger siblings came home from school to find all their belongings on the lawn. Worse yet, their parents were gone. Nary and his siblings had been abandoned, left to live on the streets.

Despite the odds, Nary didn’t give up on his dream — inspired by a Vogue magazine he’d found — of working in New York as a fashion designer. While Dressed doesn’t give up all the details, the film does a fair job of chronicling Nary’s struggle from homelessness to a start in the fashion biz. We were struck by the roadblocks he had to overcome — one after another — that would have caused a lesser man to toss in the towel.

We met Nary and David in person at the Fashion Week Cleveland gala the following evening. We expected Nary to be stylishly dressed (he was), and contrary to most expectations, he was very friendly and humble.

White shirtdress from the NAHM spring collection

White shirtdress from the NAHM spring collection

Nary recently teamed with Ally Hilfiger, daughter of Tommy Hilfiger, to create NAHM, which translates into “water” in Laotian (Nary’s parents are from Laos). The name also comprises the designers’ initials.

You can read more about Nary in the New York Times 2010 piece “Designing Against the Odds.”

Much success and happiness to you, Nary.

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