I remember shopping for my prom dress at a big mall in New Jersey. It took me hours to find the perfect ensemble—but I did. My date might not have been the best and the music might have sucked, but I still remember how fancy I felt that night. Such is the power of the prom dress.
But what if your prom is canceled due to a global pandemic? Turns out, you can still have a phenomenal dress.
Back in January, 18-year-old Peyton Manker entered Duck Brand’s “Stuck at Prom” scholarship contest not realizing that her prom and graduation were about to be called off. She was originally planning to design her dress—entirely made from duct tape—as a dedication to her favorite artists like Leonardo da Vinci but changed her mind as the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“I decided to make the dress based on the pandemic because I knew no one in the competition was going to be able to re-create it,” Manker told Insider. “I knew I would stand out in that way and wanted to base it off of what was happening in the world.”
Manker used 41 rolls of duct tape and spent about 394 hours making her off-the-shoulder prom gown. The mostly blue dress features scenes related to COVID-19, including a virtual graduation, masked essential workers, and people around the world trying to deal with the virus.
Prominently featured in the middle of the dress is a man with a thought bubble, which Manker says represents everyone struggling with mental health issues during this time.
“I don’t want people to think about the dress as just trying to show a moment in history. It is a representation that we got through it,” Manker said.
As accessories, Manker made a “Flatten the curve” face mask, an anklet that says “This too shall pass,” hairpins that say “Separately together,” a bouquet of toilet paper rolls, and a coronavirus purse.
“I made all of these for aesthetic reasons but also to remind people that the pandemic will eventually pass and we are still all in this together,” she said.
Duck Brand will select its top-scoring finalists and open it up for community voting on June 29. After that voting period is over, the winners will be announced on July 21. If Manker wins, she is planning to use the prize money to help pay for college.
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