The prom scene during COVID-19
Dressmakers, retailers and duct tape are having a moment
From a casual glance out of my window, I spotted a girl wearing heels, a flowing dress and an open graduation gown, while holding flowers and a diploma. Her mom and a younger sibling walked on either side of her, and her graduation cap covered a small part of a flowing head of curls. In any other year, onlookers would know she was coming back from her graduation. But chances are, in 2020, she put all that glam on just to walk around the block and have a moment of regularity. This is what prom and graduation look like in a coronavirus-dominated world that has infected more than 2.3 million Americans in six months.
Of course retailers, designers and high schoolers are trying to make the best out of an odd situation. One seamstress from Chicago transitioned from making prom dresses for the past 30 years to sewing face masks, setting aside all donations to go toward an annual scholarship fund for high school seniors.
Duck Brand gave away $20K in cash scholarships to high school students who could create the best prom attire out of duct tape. Then this Illinois student went all out by creating her own coronavirus-design duct tape dress, matching blue face mask, virus purse, “Separately Together” barrette and a toilet paper roll bouquet.
And although Target could’ve never foreseen themselves being a literal target — due to police brutality outrage and protests — the retailer still went ahead and released its limited edition dress collection, with prices ranging from $40 to $100. Meanwhile prom dress stores and bridal dress stores are struggling to hold on, both because of social distancing concerns and consumers’ hesitation to come in to try on dresses. (Stores like the Chicago Bridal Store are only doing virtual appointments and curbside pickup until further notice.)
While it may seem pointless to get all dressed up from prom with nowhere to go, “Grown-ish” actresses/singers Chloe x Halle and Tia Mowry from “The Game” have something else in mind. On Fri., June 26, students can enjoy a Zoom prom that includes a virtual limo ride, digital ballroom, red carpet arrival setup and celeb cameos. Whether students are going stag or socially isolating with their dates, expect Billie Eilish, Khalid, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran to be at the after-party.
Grads may feel like they got the short end of the stick, but how often do high school and college graduates get an all-access invitation to a president giving them their graduation ceremony speech, one for HBCUs and a few hours later for PWIs, followed by a collection of live concerts; comedic skits; and pep talks from NBA players, directors and singers? Of course it’s not nearly the same as standing around, dancing, drinking (non-alcoholic beverages of course), taking professional photographs and selfies, and enjoying the last days seeing high school friends before they rush off to college. But the effort is commendable.
While COVID-19 has given high schoolers (and college graduates) something that connects them in the worst way to history books, businessowners, retailers, politicians and retailers are getting creative to create a bit of normalcy in an abnormal world.
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