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Better Living Through Chemistry

One word: plastics.

So, The American Chemistry Council partnered with GenArt to sponsor a "Plastics Make it Possible" fashion design competition, with the winner to receive $10,000 and a chance to show their work at the GenArt show during NY Fashion Week. Now, there are a lot of these types of industry-sponsored competitions in the fashion world and more often than not, the results are nothing to write home about, which is why you never see us writing about it. Well, there are two reasons we're writing about this one. One: the winning designs are gorgeous and two: we figured our minions would be interested in the winners. Who are they, you ask?

None other than Project Runway Season 5 contestants Wesley Nault and Daniel Feld. Congrats, boys!

"After sifting through 161 entries, 322 looks, and more than 5,000 online comments, we’re proud to announce that the design team of Wesley Nault and Daniel Feld (together known to the fashion world as WesFeld) are the 2009 Plastics Make it PossibleSM Design Competition winners! The contest, launched by the American Chemistry Council and Gen Art in October of 2009, challenged designers to create two women’s wear “looks” made from plastic or plastic-based materials. Designers were enticed by the offer of a $10,000 stipend and an opportunity to show a plastic-based line at New York Fashion Week in February 2010.

Though competition was fierce, WesFeld rose to the top with their use of plastics in creating two looks they titled, “Oceanic Structures.” These wave-like dresses feature materials, such as poly-organza and poly-taffeta, while plastic woven interfacing and plastic boning structure each panel. Even the piping, which gives the dress a satin-like luxury shimmer, is poly. From fiber to fit, these seashell inspired gowns truly are made possible by plastics."

And here's what the boys had to say about their winning designs:

"The inspiration for this set is inspired by oceanic structures that wash up on shore and slowly bleach out in color by the sun… Emulating the armorial like panels found in nature was not an easy task.. Thankfully after long periods of experimenting we discovered that the plastic woven interfacing and plastic boning would give us the ability to morph our opaque fabrications into something that came to life… Thank you for taking the time to look and understand our creation…We hope you enjoy it."

"Look #1 (gradiating shades of pale pinks) inspired by a conch sea shell. The segments of this gown relate to the shells engraved texture.The woman wearing the gown is symbolic to the precious pearl found within a sea shell. The design's material include: Poly-organza, poly- taffeta, plastic woven interfacing (to structure each an every panel) plastic boning, and peek-a-boo mesh ruffles."

"Look #2 ( pale Dove Gray) a stuctured and textured gown inspired by the fossilized exo skeleton of a trilobite and seahorse's paneled body... The design's material include: Poly-organza, plastic Woven interfacing (to structure each an every panel), plastic boning, as well as poly-satin piping detail.

We have to admit, those dresses are absolutely gorgeous. Just goes to show that you can't always get a sense of the designer from a crazy competition like Project Runway, although we should have seen this coming because Daniel once produced one of the more memorable looks from the show by making another dress entirely out of plastic:

The much-remembered plastic cup dress. You've come a long way, boys! We're glad to see them both still working together and making a name for themselves. We'll be checking in with them soon and we'll see if we can get more pictures of those amazing dresses for you to ooh and ahh over.

[Photos: Images/]

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These are GORGEOUS and they're so cute together.

As a paleontology geek - all they had to say was "trilobite" :)

Very beautiful and interesting designs.

Thanks for sharing, and glad to hear Daniel and Wesley are doing well.

Can't wait to hear how they're doing!

Absolutely stunning!

Congratulations, guys. Way to go!


Gorgeous! Congratulations, boys!!!

Put my vote firmly into the "Gorgeous" column, too. They really communicate the oceanic theme and the fabrics are used beautifully. Very much like the ombre'd color in the first dress, which is so like any number of wonderful shells I've seen.

Well done, WesFeld.

All the best,


Ah, Wesley. swoon....

The first thing that came to my mind when I read plastic and fashion together was the drinking cup dress Daniel made...and then he was one of the winners!

Bravo, boys!

That second dress is absolutely GORGEOUS!

And I gotta say, they make one adorable couple. They are just the cutest little couple I've ever seen. I picture them living in a little vine covered cottage where song birds and deer come to eat out of their hands.


i instantly thought "conch shell" for the first one. just exquisite.

second one is also lovely, though i wasn't as certain of the inspiration until i read their comment.

thanks for sharing these!

Aww. Happy flashbacks of Wes ironing in his underwear.

Thanks, boys.

They're absolutely beautiful (especially the second one) but I have to say the plastics-ocean connection immediately makes me think of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Especially when they talk about stuff bleaching out in the sun.



I want to see Beyonce or Shakira wearing that second dress on the red carpet. Beautiful!

LOVE these two!!!! Thank, tlo!

The first one seems a bit off in the hips, but the second one is stunning. Good job boys!

once i read the word 'ocean' i had no trouble seeing what exactly inspired each dress before i even read the descriptions. i like when clothing that is apparently inspired by something actually shows that inspiration.

They are adorable : ) The designs are amazing. I can't stop looking at that 2nd dress.

Wesley Nault is so HOT!!! & talented...

Those dress are beautiful. Very nice indeed.

The dresses are beautiful, but not really all that impressive given the fact they just fabrics. As if polyester is what most people think of when they hear "plastics," however technically true it may be.

Anyway, I'm just surprised they're even still together. I saw Daniel at Sugarland in Williamsburg shortly after that season aired, and he was kind of a smarmy bastard. Loads of attitude, flirting with all the trendiest hipster things in the most attention-getting ways, and enough grease on his face to fry an egg. Couldn't get away from him fast enough. Anyway, Wes seems like a nice guy, so...good luck with that.

aren't they season 4 or something (not season 5)?

Is Daniel V aging backwards?

Gorgeous and interesting. Although the irony of an ocean theme winning a plastics competition is rich.

Does anyone find it ironic that in certain shots their model looks like Natalie Portman who would rather eat a rare steak than use a non-organic material?

Oh yes, beautiful indeed. And I immediately thought "Conch" for the first and "Seahorse" for the second, so I agree with Anony 1:28 about seeing the inspiration, but thankfully not in a gimmicky, mermaid-costume kind of way. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.


Very lovely, I especially like the color gradation on the pink.

Congratulations to the pair of them, I hope all is even better than it appears in their world.

They ARE a "cute" couple, but with even the tiniest bit of luck in the aging process, they'd be a couple for a classic, world-famous photo in their 40's or 50's. I think their faces could be a fascinating study with a little age on them.

if these dresses are "plastic" can they be washed off with a hose? Seriously, I wonder? Love the designs. Would like a bustier to wear with jeans or jean skirt. One in each color plus a nice neutral celery green please.


Beautiful gowns. I wish them well.
I heard a while back that they ended their personal relationship. Are they back together or is this just a business relationship now? Either way, whatever they're doing is working for them. Excellent job.


love, love, love the dresses, especially the first one. To.Die.For.

Congrats to Daniel and Wes!

Just stunning.

And how adorable are these two, seriously?

The dove gray dress deserves a spot in a museum - beautiful.

Hehe. Plastics. Congrats to Daniel and Wesley!

The winning designs are beautiful, but . . .

I would've entered a dress that looked like a dead sea turtle, opened up to show the plastic garbage in his belly. Because plastics make it possible.

These gowns are simply breathtaking. They look like something from a high-end European design house runway show. I am in love.

Gorgeous! I love the pale pink of the conch dress, and I don't even like pink.


I think the model looks like a cross between Natalie Portman and Matar. I wonder if she's also Israeli?

Stunningly gorgeous!


Those are fantastic. Never liked their work on the show (with the exception of the solo cup dress of course) but I'm glad to see some awesome dresses from PR Alums.

1/8/10 2:10 PM The winning designs are beautiful, but . . .

I would've entered a dress that looked like a dead sea turtle, opened up to show the plastic garbage in his belly. Because plastics make it possible.

Huh - I 'd say human's littering made THAT possbile.

When I think "Plastic Makes it Possible" - *I* think the shunt they used saving my cousin's life, the (nutrition) tube the doctors used to save my uncle's life, my contact lenses, the vinyl boots that are alternatives to ANIMAL SKIN and oh - and my GORGEOUS acrylic serving cart.

But that might just be me.

Beautiful, intriguing, and thoughtful interpretations of the theme.

And yet, these designs could walk down any runway and steal the show.

LOVE them.

"You had me @ 'trilobite'".
Wow. Absolutely gorgeous designs!
These 2 could be the new Proenza Schouler.
Congrats, darlings!
May you go far.

Stunning!!! I so badly want to see one of those gowns on the Oscar red carpet!

Wow, those dresses are amazing. Breathtaking!!

Gorgeous! These dresses make me want to walk a red carpet. I didn't care for either guy's aesthetic on PR but I love what they're designing together.

I thought the model was Natalie Portman at first!

Gorgeous! Go twinks!


Not at all what I expected, before scrolling down the page. Wow! These are absolutely exquisite --- I can totally see how they won. I can also see celebrities like like Uma Thurman or Cate Blanchett in either gown --- maybe even Tilda Swinton (who I adore, but she usually goes for the more avant-garde and minimalist looks). Anyway, congrats to both Daniel & Wesley.


A-mazing! Thanks for posting this, boys.

I always thought Daniel should have won the grocery store change for the cup dress.
These dresses are beautiful too. The shell dress is stunning.

Marie said: They're absolutely beautiful (especially the second one) but I have to say the plastics-ocean connection immediately makes me think of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Especially when they talk about stuff bleaching out in the sun.

I thought the exact same thing! Just the other day Stephan Colbert had a guest on his show who has been studying the Great Pacific Ocean Patch for the past 12 years. Wish someone could make something beautiful out of all that garbage.

They've come a long way is right! I'm so happy for Wesley and Daniel! The winning designs are gorgeous!!!

And the opportunity to show at NY Fashion Week 2010...awesome!

Those are some amazing dresses. Congrats to them. Also, Wesley had the best shorts (and clothes in general) on the show.

Tom and Lorenzo, if you ever get a chance to interview Wesley can you please ask him about his shorts. Does he make them? if yes, where can consumers buy his stuff. If no, where does he shop. Thanks!!!!


another laura

They are very pretty, indeed, but like some others I can't read the words "plastic" and "ocean" in the same sentence without becoming sad. yeah, I know, lighten up, it's just fashion, but that's my reaction.

Our Swinton score today is 41.

1/8/10 1:26 PM They're absolutely beautiful (especially the second one) but I have to say the plastics-ocean connection immediately makes me think of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Especially when they talk about stuff bleaching out in the sun.

I'm with you. It would have heartened me more if this had been a recycling challenge rather than a celebration of man-made materials.

OMG! gorgeous! I knew right away that one was influenced by the conch shell! divine!! love it!!

Wow, gorgeous and extremely impressive!

The first one looks like a Nina Ricci knock-off.

Wow. Absolutely gorgeous. I love the first one. Congratulations Wes & Daniel!

Uh, what does this have to do with plastics? So they used polyester shit instead of natural fibers - woo hoo. Would've much rather seen something using innovative materials. As it is, anybody could've sponsored the contest that produced these dresses. Fail.


Truth said...

Uh, what does this have to do with plastics?"

Uh, the fact that the dresses are made entirely out of plastic-derived materials?

Your comment? Fail.

"Anyway, I'm just surprised they're even still together."

I don't think they are... perhaps they still work together as a design team, but I remember that it was reported that they broke up last year.

These two are very talented. Those dresses are absolutely gorgeous. I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing :)

When I saw this post, first thing I thought of was Daniel's plastic cup dress.

I don't like the dresses at all... they look like what they are, faintly tacky entries in a lacklustre noglamour industry competition. Never mind, all the best to them, maybe this will be the stepstone for a lucrative line in the polyester-gallore wedding dress business

Gorgeous dresses, and I love the inspiration. (As a retired biology teacher, what do you expect?!) Now that's what I want to see on a red carpet!

For those complaining about them just using poly fabric, they state quite clearly in their comments that the base structure of each fold and pleat of both dresses is made from plastic mesh and/or plastic boning and then covered with poly material. That seems like an amazing technical achievement to me, especially considering how difficult those materials are to work with. I mean, how often have we heard PR contestants whining over having to use polyester satin (from old wedding dresses, or whatever) and ending up with badly puckered, ugly messes. I say bravo to Daniel and Wesley - beautiful work!

Uh, polyester is not that hard to work with. Neither is plastic boning (not any more than any other kind of boning). I think these dresses are beautiful, but let's be real here. If the challenge is plastics, using poly and calling it a day is a bit of cop out. (I'm sure many other entries did the same thing too. I'm not knocking these two specifically - the contest is just stupid if that's what they mean by "use plastics.")

Anonymous said...

Uh, polyester is not that hard to work with. Neither is plastic boning (not any more than any other kind of boning). I think these dresses are beautiful, but let's be real here. If the challenge is plastics, using poly and calling it a day is a bit of cop out. (I'm sure many other entries did the same thing too. I'm not knocking these two specifically - the contest is just stupid if that's what they mean by "use plastics.")

Why? They used plastics. What else do you want? Some of you have watched too much Project Runway. Just because a design competition revolves around plastic doesn't mean that the participants were supposed to use trash bags to make a dress.

Actually, no, I speak as someone who has entered (and won) some of these industry design contests. There are a LOT of them, and most aren't that huge of a deal. They just usually emphasize creativity and innovation. I would've expected something...more to win, that's all. As I said, it's not the boys' fault...I just think the contest is stupid if polyester fabrics count as plastic, though yes it is technically true. "Use materials you may well have used anyway to show how plastics make it possible!" It's just dumb. (And that opinion has nothing to do with PR. Some of us actually have a point of reference for fashion beyond reality TV, thanks. And I hate all that corn husk/seatbelt crap PR turns out anyway. You need some REAL skills to pull that kind of thing off.)

Anonymous said...

Actually, no, I speak as someone who has entered (and won) some of these industry design contests.

Sure. - this is another side to the better living through chemicals/plastics. I wonder what designers would come up with if they used the picture above for inspiration for living with plastics (not necessarily better living.)

Anon 11:05,
Polyester is not being "considered" a plastic it absolutely is a plastic.
This particular design competition was sponsored by The American Chemistry Council of which DuPont is a member. If you check the link you will see that in the Fashion Design division they mention other synthetic fabrics such as nylon and Lycra (a name brand of DuPont). I think they intended the designers in this catagory to use plastics of the purpose that they were intended and the "innovasion" be in the design rather than the use of material.
I agree that neither polyester or plastic boning is particularly difficult to work with. Also their are many more interesting and newer plastic textiles than polyester most of which are produced in Japan.
At any rate these two dresses did require a great deal of skill and many hours to create.

Okay, I swooned over these two dresses. Beautiful!

As to these young gorgeous talented men, they look like this season's guest stars on Gossip Girl, Dan, the dark haired bad boy, Serena's latest stalker and Wes, the good looking mysterious love interest of her brother who is also leading Jenny Humphrey on but is really an undercover DEA agent...

Beautiful. Didn't have to even read the descriptions before figuring out their inspiration.

Awesome dresses, and big congrats to them. But I'm scratching my head at all the people saying what a cute couple they are. Not getting it. They're both attractive young men, but they don't seem to go together to me at all.

But, just to be clear, it obviously doesn't matter what I think as long as the two of them are both happy. And I very sincerely hope they are.

Not wanting to take anything away from them. Just saying I don't understand it.

Gorgeous! The second look is simply spectacular.

Congrats Boyz! The MOST amazing this about both GORGEOUS ocean-inspired designs is that when they are out of style later this year they turn into reusable grocery bags that lastz forevah. Seriously. They do. I'm buying one!

Plastic is a problem on our planet for many reasons, which the public is becoming aware of more and more each day, via magazines, tv, news, Colbert, Oprah, etc. While there are some great medical and safety uses for plastic, it's mostly used and discarded (making a big, toxic mess of our home planet in the process). Just look in your own trash bin (I'll wait) and multiply that by a few billion people.

So, The American Chemistry Council, representing the multibillion dollar plastics industry is trying to make non-essential plastic cool. By spending millions of dollars on social marketing.

Hence, ocean-inspired plastic fashion.

Congrats to the winners. You are creative and have brilliant careers ahead. Maybe a donation to support cleaning up the plastic in the ocean that provided the inspiration is in order. That would be a very classy move, worthy of some serious press!

These designs are spectacular but....
Watch as plastics poison our Oceans daily!

Refuse single use plastics now:

I'm speechless. PLASTIC dresses inspired by the OCEAN. Plastic Ocean. How is it possible that the designers could not see the irony here? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a swirling mass of plastic pollution. So perhaps if we wreck the ocean, it'll be okay because we can recreate it out of the plastic that is destroying it. Is that it?

To the commenter who said that ocean pollution is due to human litter, please study the problem in more depth. Plastic does get into the ocean through litter. But it also gets there before consumers ever get their hands on it... from pre-production plastic pellets (aka "nurdles") that spill in transit and make their way down storm drains. This is such a problem that the State of California passed a law to try and address it. From garbage bins that overflow. From plastic that escapes from garbage and recycling trucks. Most people actually don't litter. And yet our oceans are filled with plastic.

Plastic pollution is a serious problem. And the American Chemistry Council, instead of trying to be a part of the solution, is simply throwing money into marketing and social media to convince us that there is no problem. To quote Blade Runner, "ACC, you're not helping? Why is that, ACC?"

Yes, the dresses are gorgeous. It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that something can be so beautiful and yet represent such destruction at the same time.

Beth Terry
Attempting to to reach Zero plastic waste and blogging the heck out of it since 2007 at

Advisor to Plastic Pollution Coalition

Beautiful dresses BUT, you guys are selling out to the AMERICAN CHEMISTRY lobby? The guys who are putting more and more non-biodegradable plastic on our planet? Surely, you could promote a more ethical organization as part of this?

The dresses are beautiful. Congratulations to Wesfeld! I am grateful for plastic in fashion -- allows me to wear faux fur without harming animals!

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