David Alan is a self-taught electronics whiz who will design and manufacture a telephone to fit into almost anything. In the past two years he's crafted phones from a gas mask (below), from beer cans, encyclopedias, vases, lamps, skulls (the eyes light up to signal a call) and into the tummy of a plastic King Kong. "I'm not crazy about plain ringing phones," he says. "I prefer lights or sound effects." One of his early inspirations came from the old Get Smart TV show; Alan built a phone into a man's shoe. The dial was inside, the earpiece was in the sole and the user talked into the heel. He sold it for $17. Alan, 21, began tinkering as a kid in Newton, N.J., where he grew up. By the time he got into high school, he was hooked on telephones. "I guess I made a phone for just about every girl I went out with," he remembers. "I learned as I went. I use mostly standard telephone components, but if I have to fit a particular situation, I can compact a phone by about 60 percent with subminiaturization." A University of Miami dropout, Alan's largest creation to date is a seven-foot hollowed-out tree trunk with a phone inside. The asking price is $3,500. Ma Bell hasn't actually given Alan's extensions the okay but, he says, "My phones are compatible with telephone company equipment just about anywhere. I'm always careful to explain to customers the legalities. I don't run lines or make installations."
Susan Hagen, 21, a recent graduate of Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, left in August for Paris. As one of five winners of a contest sponsored by France's Chambre Syndicale and five top French couturiers, she was awarded a $5,000 scholarship and a one-year apprenticeship with designer Yves Saint Laurent. "It's changed my life," bubbled Susan before her departure. "Last week I was an assistant in a warehouse; this week I leave to study with Saint Laurent." Hagen, an only-child, grew up in Oakland. She lives with her boyfriend, Stephen Call, who is director of a Montessori children's center. In addition to making most of her own clothes, Hagen also makes jewelry and pottery. The couturiers' contest that won Hagen her Paris scholarship described specifically what the student had to design. Susan's choice of category was a gown suitable for a "formal evening at the casino, in a two-tone crepe." It took her 140 hours to complete a long, black sheath with caramel shawl wrapped at the waist. "It looks simple but was really difficult," she explains. "It was all in the drape and it's completely reversible so no seams show." Susan is looking forward to Christmas, when her friend Stephen plans to come over to Paris for a visit.