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August 19, 2014

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Fashion students design prom dresses for deserving teens

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Justin M. Bowen

Carolyn Thomas, chair of the fashion program, fits Jade Jones, a senior at West Preparatory School, Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at the International Academy of Design and Technology. The school is designing and creating custom prom dresses for high school students as part of the Pretty for Prom program.

Pretty for Prom Dresses

Jade Jones, a senior at West Preparatory School, gets fitted Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at the International Academy of Design and Technology.  The school is designing and creating custom prom dresses for high school students as part of the Pretty for Prom program. Launch slideshow »

International Academy of Design and Technology

Without the fashion students at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Henderson, Jade Jones wouldn’t be going to her senior prom on May 13.

Jones, her mother and two sisters “lost everything” while living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, she said. They moved to Las Vegas in 2005, and Jones has worked hard as a student at West Prep. She’s positioned herself to be the school’s valedictorian in June.

But until January, Jones thought she’d have to miss the most traditional of high school traditions — the prom — because she couldn’t afford a dress.

That’s when her principal told her about a program at IADT in which the school’s fashion students design prom dresses for high school students who have “faced challenges and adversity,” said Dr. Carolyn Thomas, the fashion program director.

“I wasn’t going to be able to go to prom. Mom wanted to spoil me and let me go, but I told her I wouldn’t,” Jones said.

With two younger sisters left to finish school, Jones said she didn’t want her mother to spend money they didn’t really have to help her go.

Now, though, she has a turquoise-and-black prom dress, short and puffed-out at the bottom, exactly like the one she picked from a magazine.

The “Pretty for Prom” program is in its second year. With help from school administrators and faculty, the Clark County School District’s School-Community Partnership Office selected 15 students to receive a helping hand from IADT’s fashion students.

The process started in January, when clients met with their designers for fitting and to discuss the students’ hopes for their dress. Throughout the next two months, they met several times to fine-tune the design and ensure everything fit.

On Wednesday afternoon, the students were being fitted for the last time. They also received $100 gift cards, courtesy of General Growth Properties, to buy shoes and accessories to match their attire.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Jones said. “She’s there for me. Anything I want or need, she’ll do. It’s hard to believe that they’re doing this for you.”

The design students gained, too. Most of Thomas’ 175 students — about 20 worked on the prom dresses — have never worked for a client before. The prom project provides them with real-world experience instead of designing for mannequins.

“Dress forms are perfect, but no one’s body is perfect,” said Thomas, director of the fashion program since 2005. “And you have to overcome your own personal taste to work with a client, which is very difficult.”

As she touched up a forest green, one-shoulder dress, Kazarie Pavlides, a senior in the fashion program, agreed that putting aside her own preferences for the dress was one of the most challenging parts of the job.

But watching her client break into a big smile when she saw the final product made the frustrations worth it, Pavlides said.

“I do find it shocking that someone would trust me that much,” she said. “You just have to remember that it’s not for you. That’s what being a designer is all about.”

The fabric and other material for the dresses were donated by NV Energy, purchased by funds from the company’s paperless billing campaign, and in partnership with the Nevada Public Education Foundation.

On April 16 at the Fashion Show Mall, the students will walk the red carpet during IADT’s semi-annual Student Designer Showcase to show off their custom-made outfits. The show starts at 2 p.m.

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  1. Bravo... To the deserving girls and to the I.A.D.T for making the girls dreams come true.

  2. Contrary to what many believe there are still people in Las Vegas that will lend a helping hand to those that need it.

    Good job!