Roll out the red carpet
Prom themes, fashions take cues from celebrity culture

By LaReeca Rucker

Today they are typical high school students dressed in jeans and T-shirts, but come Saturday night, they'll be glittering royalty.

Ridgeland High School juniors and seniors will attend A Royal Affair at Reservoir Pointe from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The prom will feature decorative castles, thrones, crowns and a red carpet with its very own annoying, yet flattering paparazzi.

The concept fits well with today's prom. Trends for 2008 revolve around celebrity-inspired fashions that create a "red carpet" look, and teens will
be promenading in everything from sparkly, retro '60s cocktail dresses to long, glamorous, old Hollywood-style gowns.

While Jackson Academy students will be attending prom "Under the Big Top" April 4, Lanier High School students will promenade April 19. Their theme is "A Red Carpet Affair: Hollywood Style."

"We always try to instill in our children that they are all stars," said Gwen Handy, teacher and prom coordinator. "So we put up stars with all the juniors' and seniors' names, and we put out the red carpet for them. When they come through, they will be announced like the stars on the red carpet. That night it's just like the Academy Awards."

Pearl High School students will be livin' it up in East Coast style. Their prom is April 12, and the theme is "A Night in New York."

"We'll have a Central Park area and New York skyline," said Gina Morgigno, school counselor and student council adviser.

RHS senior Haley Thomason, 18, works at Expectations in Ridgeland, and she's helped girls from all over the metro area pick out prom dresses.

"We've had some come in and ask to see someone else's dress," she said. "We don't let them though."

Thomason, who plans to wear an orange dress with a cheetah print Saturday night, said animal prints are big, as are dresses with low backs.

Cathy Fountain, owner of Fancy Formals in Clinton, rents and sells prom dresses. She said the majority of her customers rent instead of buy, spending about $250. Buying a prom dress typically ranges from $400 to $600.

"It's a very expensive night for a little girl," she said.

Cathy Jordan, of Glitz and Glamour Boutique in Byram, also rents and sells prom dresses. She said designer dresses typically sell for around $300, and the average rental is $175.

Jordan makes all her customers sit in their dresses before buying.

"They need to be able to sit and be comfortable," she said. "The prom is not like a pageant. You are going to be sitting and eating in the dress."

Michelle Cole, owner of Crown to Heels in Vicksburg, is selling lots of short prom dresses, and her customer typically spends about $200.

Her best-seller has been a Jovani accordion-style dress in a mix of spring colors - green, pink and yellow. It features rhinestones in front and straps that cross behind.

Cole said many girls are opting to wear pony-tails with their dresses to show off large, dangling earrings.

And let's not forget the guys. The tuxedo has come a long way since the tragic powder blue of the 1970s.

Carlton Smith, a formalwear consultant at Squires Formalwear in Jackson, said nothing is traditional when it comes to the tux.

"Tuxes range from brown, gray, white, ivory, black and even tan," he said"People are looking for things that are different."

Smith said the most popular tux style is black-on-black with an accenting tie.

"It's a celebrity trend," he said. "If you look at Will Smith and Bruce Willis, they all wear black-on- black - a black jacket, black shirt and black tie."

Smith said chocolate is the second most popular color, and guys are matching their tuxes to their date's dress. Fuchsia, turquoise and orange are popular vest/dress colors.

"As far as the conformity of tuxedos, pants are still tapered and tuxes are still cut to fit," he said. "The going rate to rent them is anywhere from $80 to $150."


Many promgoers are showing up in borrowed or rented sports cars instead of limos, but for some, the limo is still the ride of choice.

Fred Cerami, owner of Act One Limousine in Jackson, said limos are encouraged by some parents.

"Wouldn't you rather see your child in an automobile with a professional driver if you know he's out on the road?" asked Cerami, who doesn't allow underage drinking.

While a traditional limo rental costs about $60 an hour for a minimum of three, Cerami said some teens prefer nontraditional rentals, like Hummer limos, but once they hear the price, they often go the traditional route.

"Those can cost you at least $175 an hour, or $1,000 a night," he said. "The kids want the more extravagant vehicles, but it's up to the individuals to spend what they can afford."

Anna Claire Freeman, 18, is the RHS student body president.

"This year, a lot of the seniors organized a big tour bus," she said, "and we're each paying a certain amount of money. We are going to go to Nick's restaurant afterward. We have reservations for 50 people."

Music, mornings

The Soulja Boy dance, Cha Cha Slide and even the Electric Slide are popular group dances at prom, Freeman said. The dance will probably start with '80s music, (to which students said they find it easier to dance), followed by hip-hop and rap, and end with the classics, like Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl.

Freeman said some students rent hotel rooms, some have parties at their homes, and some parents provide a breakfast at their homes the morning after the prom.

Tabora Cook, 18, said he looks forward to prom each year because he gets to socialize with others from the 850-member student body that he might not see every day.

"At prom, everyone meshes," he said.

Thomason said you can forget about film scenes like Carrie and even Never Been Kissed in which the prom king and queen are chosen for all the wrong reasons.

"Our prom is not like it is in the movies," she said. "We always pick someone to be prom king and queen who doesn't get recognized as much and deserves it. We don't want it to go to the same people who get the same things all the time."


Prom dress rental, $175

Tuxedo rental, $80-$150

Limo rental, $180 for three hours

Food, $50 per couple

Hair, $30

Manicure/pedicure, $50

Accessories like earrings and purse, $50

Corsage, $30

Boutonniere, $10


For her:

Colors: Metallics, brilliant brights, animal prints, muted jewel tones and black and white classics.

Styles: Accordion and Grecian cuts, halter dresses with neck collars, babydoll dresses, bubble skirts.

Accessories: Dangling earrings (hair in ponytail), no necklaces.

For him:

Colors: Range from brown, gray, white, ivory and black to tan; fuchsia, turquoise and orange are popular vest colors.

Tux style: Black-on-black with an accenting tie; pants are tapered and tuxes cut to fit.