Fashion students stitch prom miracles
Students from Niles North and Niles West High Schools construct fashion sculptures for display at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie. | Contributed photo
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:04AM
As prom season approaches, a group of fashion students from Niles West, Niles North and New Trier High Schools have put their creative minds together.
Their goal? To help underprivileged high school students in the Chicago-area look beautiful on the big night, despite not being able to afford expensive dresses and accessories that often cost hundreds of dollars.
To help bring attention to the Glass Slipper Project (GSP) — a Chicago-area non-profit that serves underprivileged high school juniors and seniors by providing thousands of donated dresses, shoes and accessories each spring — students enrolled in the fashion programs at the three schools formed six teams that designed prom-inspired fashion sculptures that will be displayed at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center through prom season.
The students spent a full day earlier this month at visual merchandising company Oak Street Design in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, where they snipped and sewed recycled and deconstructed materials to create one-of-a-kind sculptures depicting prom dresses.
About 35 students were divided into teams of five to six students from each school, who will face off against each other when their sculptures are displayed at Old Orchard early next week near the Koi Pond located just north of Macy’s.
“Having the sculptures in the mall is a way to promote prom season while bringing awareness to the Glass Slipper Project,” said Julie Lear, director of the fashion program at Niles North.
The students will also lend a hand to GSP by spending a Saturday afternoon collecting donated prom items during the March 16 and March 23 drop-off dates at Old Orchard, during which time the public is encouraged to drop-off their old dresses, jewelry and shoes in exchange for a $10 credit to use anywhere in the mall.
Although the dress sculpture project was a charity-focused event, the winning team will get an extra perk in the form of a shopping day at Old Orchard including a gift from Bloomingdale’s, Mario Tricoci Salon and other retailers, said Amanda Wolfson, Production Manager at Oak Street Design.
The public will be able to vote on their favorite sculpture by logging on to the Old Orchard Facebook page starting March 20, and those who don’t have a chance to go to the mall and check out the designs in person will be able to see photos of each sculpture on the Facebook page, Wolfson said.
“The goal was to teach students about giving back to the project by volunteering their time to collect the dresses,” Wolfson said. “We hope to create awareness about the GSP while surprising and delighting shoppers.”
The young future fashion designers created each design from scratch using only earth-friendly materials combined with their creative skills and style sense, and all within a one-day time frame.
“This was a great way to get students involved in promoting this cause by helping shoppers know that they’ll be collecting dresses for the charity,” Wolfson said.
For the past 15 years, GSP volunteers have been collecting thousands of prom items to donate to underprivileged high school juniors and seniors each spring.
The program serves between 1,700 and 2,000 juniors and seniors each year, who wait in line on designated “boutique days” for their turn to shop.
The event is usually held at a Chicago Public School during a weekend in April, and each classroom is organized by color and size of dresses to make it easy for students served by the program to find their perfect dress.
“It’s truly amazing when you get to the location on the morning of a ‘boutique day,’ GSP board member Amy Ross said. “Hundreds of girls are lined up, and some of them even sleep in their cars overnight to get a place in the front of the line — they’re so excited to get in.”