Slipping into her stretch-cotton, black prom dress, senior Avery Bond is stepping into a new version of herself. A version that feels an extra sense of security from the mesh net in the middle of her dress. A version that wants her personality quirks to be amplified. And most importantly, a version that has more self-confidence.
Bond has scoliosis, so dresses often bunch around her shoulders due to the way her spine curves. But because she has been designing her own costumes since freshman year, she creates her own outfits from scratch to fit her perfectly. Crafting her own dresses also allows Bond to base her designs off of characters she is inspired by – from Elsa in “Frozen” to Christine Daaé in “Phantom of the Opera.”
For prom this year, Bond based her dress off of the anime character Yuuri from “Yuri on Ice.” Bond chose Yuuri as her inspiration because she feels that she can relate to his complex personality. Yuuri is insecure, but when he puts on his costume to perform his routine, he gives off an aura of confidence on the ice.
“I feel kind of like me, but a more confident version when I’m wearing [my dress],” Bond explained. “Most of the time when I’m out, I feel like people are judging me, but when I’m wearing one of my creations that is inspired by a character, I feel like I take a piece of that character with me.”
In seventh grade, Bond had a dreamlike mindset surrounding prom, and decided that either she or her mom would sew her senior prom dress. Stephanie Bond, Avery’s mom, has since encouraged Avery to costume design because she feels that sewing has provided Avery with a relaxing outlet. Because of her mom’s support, Bond is now in apparel four and is at a level where she can draft her own pattern. After creating the patterns for her dress, she can sew the pieces together to complete this five week long process.
“Last year I had planned for my dress was going to be an orange ombré color,” Bond said. “But now that I have flushed out my designing skills, I dabbled with the idea of making [Yuuri’s outfit] more feminine.”
Bond’s dress embodies the same criss-cross design on the top half of her dress as Yuuri’s. However, Bond chose a black fabric with more shimmer than Yuuri’s, and she created a slit on the bottom half of her dress with red fabric on the inside.
“When I put on my dress, I’m ready to step out there,” Bond said. “I’m ready to be confident.”
Finally, a free-dress day for the students of Calvary Lutheran School. Dolled up in a hot pink knit sweater and polka-dotted skirt, then sixth-grader Jessie Stindt ran up to her friends asking if she looked like a fashion designer. At the time, she felt like the next “Project Runway” winner. Reminiscing on it though, Stindt’s free-dress day outfit was nothing compared to the lace, flower-embellished dress she will be exhibiting at prom.
Junior Jessie Stindt’s sixth grade sketches of Barbie dresses have transcended into a career goal of hers, and the process of creating her own prom dress is one milestone towards this goal. Making her own prom dress has allowed Stindt to expand her passion for designing, as she has been able to pinpoint that she wants to design formal gowns when she is older.
“I’ve wanted to take on a bigger project,” Stindt said. “Creating my own prom dress sounded like a challenge for me because I would have to really know how the fabric is going to drape.”
Stindt’s prom dress is based off of designs by wedding designer Hayley Paige, who Stindt has developed a “major obsession” for. Paige is known for complex cut-outs in the backs of her dresses, and Stindt has created a strappy-back within her own.
Stindt has also explored the athletic side of fashion design by fabricating her own leggings and matching tank top last year. However, after spending second and fifth hour in apparel every day for the past three weeks making her dress, Stindt has grown to love the beauty that accompanies bridal designing.
“In bridal designing, the designer is capable of making the bride feel really good, and I think that makes bridal designing special,” Stindt said.
In the process of crafting her prom dress, Stindt has to first draft the pattern of the dress. Although drafting is the toughest part because it requires Stindt to design the shapes of the materials on her own, she finds it the most rewarding step in the process because it ensures that her dress is completely unique.
“I had the best feeling when I got to sew some of the pieces of the dress together and start to see what [the dress] is going to turn out to be,” Stindt said. “It’s just so cool to be able to step back and realize that the dress is actually coming together.”