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Prom fashion show highlights casual elegance

On a chilly February day in Hamburg, one wouldn't know from outside the Brierwood Country Club that inside all the vibrancy of prom season was in full swing.

Wolff United Enterprises on Sunday hosted its first ever "Western New York Prom Show," which featured dress shops, makeup, jewelry stores and hair salons from all over the area. Dozens of dresses in vivid hues and sparkling metallics filled the room like bright bouquets of spring flowers, eagerly awaiting the crowds of high school girls ready to scour through the silk and crinoline on their mission to find the perfect prom look.

Whether you are a senior attending the last dance, or a junior ready to have fun at your first prom, the show exhibited dresses for every taste and style. This year especially, prom trends are following a theme of more casual elegance. Many of the dresses have taken a cue from haute couture designers and red carpet looks. Popular this season is the one-shoulder gown, a la Michelle Obama, which provides a sophisticated look that flatters almost any body type.

The extrovert at the prom may opt for another red carpet-inspired craze: animal prints. Helen Davis of LaRue's Bridal noted that prints are among the biggest trends this year. Says Davis: "A lot of prints are in this year, the wilder, the better. If there is a black that is an underlay with that leopard or zebra print it is always a sale, [customers] just love that black along with it."

Recurring styles are keyhole backs, peek-a-boo dresses and back straps which give the effect of a corset.
All of these trends were also exhibited in the show as well, which presented dresses by M.A. Carr and T.T. New York accompanied by some debonair boys suited in fashions from Men's Wearhouse. Several models from both public and private schools strutted down the "Red Carpet Romance" theme catwalk, provided by Anderson's Prom and Party.

But the carpet wasn't the only thing that was red; shades of rouge proved to be a hit in long evening gowns, like the Spanish flamenco dancer-inspired one by M.A. Carr worn by Keely Washburn of Hamburg High School. T.T. New York showed off its love of red on Nardin Academy senior Alyssa Wolff, who wore a tight-fitted red gown.

Celebrities also influenced trends with the comeback of the "mermaid dress' and sweetheart necklines. Nardin senior Hannah Urbanski modeled a light pink and gold empire waist gown by M.A. Carr that presented both the season's popular metallics and Grecian goddess influences. If you want to make an appearance at your prom, you might also try a more regal gown with a train. An elegant pink halter-style dress with a chiffon train from T.T. New York was worn by Faith Moore. Other whimsical fairy tale dresses included a gathered gown embroidered with flowers worn by Kenmore West senior Joecelyn Guzman. "I really want the yellow dress from 'Beauty and the Beast,' " says West Seneca West senior Caitlin Kwietniewski. "The yellow Belle dress, it's something I've always wanted."
The longer evening gowns definitely dominated the stage. "I liked the longer dresses over the shorter dresses," said Nardin senior Emily Blum, "and I think that showed in the dresses they chose because there were only a couple shorter dresses, so I think they're really following what girls like." However, short, flirty dresses were represented in the show, including a salmon pink one from M.A. Carr which complimented the escort's pink vest and tie. One of the cleverest dresses of the show was a short pink dress from T.T. New York which sported a sequined removable tutu that transformed the outfit from a cute and flirty party piece to a sleek and sophisticated cocktail dress. Many of the short dresses, with layers, bright colors, and fun prints like polka dots became instant hits because of their playfulness and versatility.

The men on the runway looked just as dapper as the girls. Popular among the tuxes from Men's Wearhouse were jewel--tone hues for ties and vests. Christina Amico from Men's Wearhouse recommended bold colors as well, especially those that match the girl's dress. However, in the case that you might not want to match your date's attire, Amico said to wear "Silver, black on black is really hot, too, with maybe a bright tie." Tuxes with subtle pinstripes or elements of brown and olive gave a bit of an edge to many of the ensembles on stage; all-white tuxedos may be reserved for the guy with a bit more bravado.
PROM HAIR: Following this year's prom trend of more casual glamour, prom hair has also let loose. Gone it seems are the days of tightly pulled and piled high hair with princess tiaras; more girls are opting for an almost "messy" look. Patrick of Capello's Salon in Williamsville noted this more-at-ease style in current prom hair. "I think everybody has their own style and what we are seeing a lot more of now is the more classic look, down and curly, nothing overdone." "I'm seeing a lot of looser, not so structured" hairstyles, says Corey of Capellos. "They want loose curls, wispy, more messy, it looks like they did it themselves at home but they didn't." One of the best advantages of the "messy look' is that it is easy to do at home. Celebrity hairstyles from Jessica Alba to Cameron Diaz have modeled their messy California locks and popular low chignons that are easy to do yourself. You can let them lie loose throughout the night or dress them up with accessories like brooches, headbands, flowers or feathers.

MAKEUP: The "messy look" rule should not apply to make up however. While many girls should look like they are au naturale, makeup still is a prom necessity. Denise Orlowski, sales director of Mary Kay, advised using a simple eye shadow to give "a shimmer to the eye and then accent with a deeper color." Also for lipstick, don't go too bright or you might risk looking like you are too old to go to prom. Instead go toward more berry shades and apply a lip-gloss over that.

Leigh Giangreco is a senior at Nardin.

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