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  • Tonight is designer Timothy Westbrook’s “LEGACY” figure skating and recycled fashion show in the Pfister’s Imperial Ballroom. When I emerge from the elevator everything is waiting for me. At the check-in table they hand me a card with my seating arrangement and my name lettered by a professional calligrapher. After staring raptly at the card for half a minute, someone leads me to Maureen, the woman who wrote my name. She sits with her hands piled neatly in her lap, her hair and clothing the color of ink, a shy smile on her face. She’s near my mother’s age, but unlike my mother she wears a miniskirt. Maureen wrote the names of one hundred guests in three hours and confides in making two mistakes. I forgive her the mistakes since the work I see is flawless and straight. She doesn’t use a ruler either, unless you can say that Maureen’s ruler is in the same place where thoughts evolve into vocalizations and speed generates balance while on a bicycle.

    This evening many things appear effortless. I don’t understand how anyone can figure skate on any surface that is not ice, but I soon witness figure skaters performing axels on what is essentially a teflon mat. I see a splendid hooded garment that reminds me of a lace curtain because it used to be a lace curtain. I see open-toed gladiator sandals released from their servitude as figure skates, repurposed. Anything with one purpose can have another purpose I conclude.

    I’m reminded that anything without a purpose also get a purpose. “Pounded bark. Fallen trees,” suggests Andy Pace who owns the nation’s only showroom for non-toxic building supplies. Twenty-four years ago he switched to a water-based flooring product after several of his workers were hospitalized with acute respiratory disease. He never switched back. Now, if a tree falls in Milwaukee it gets pulped into one of five different styles of wallpaper for The Green Design Center showroom. Inside his shop Andy tells me there are precisely 30,000 pounds worth of samples. He brought some with him this evening to the fashion show, including a portion of what served as the runway.

    I take pictures of a model who has something reminiscent of medusa’s snakes writhing over his shoulders; it’s silver and therefore extra special looking. The model agrees, “It was found in a dumpster.” Tonight every accessory gets its legacy told.
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