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From parties on a budget to helicopter arrivals: Britain's school proms boom

“Helicopters? It’s absolutely ridiculous! What’s that about?” says Gary Chinery, head of year 11 at Blackburn central high school.


Chinery is supervising arrangements for the school prom. There will be no helicopters. Tickets are £10 and everyone is welcome.


Extravagant US-style proms have become a multimillion-pound business in the UK, with some parents spending hundreds of pounds on a dress or suit, hair, makeup and luxury vehicle hire for their 16-year-old, and even more on the pre- and post-prom parties.


Chinery, however, has done it on a tight budget – calling on friends, contacts and local businesses for donations – with the aim of making the post-GCSE party available to all. The PE teacher and his friends have loaned dresses, the local Co-op has laid on the limousines and the evening promises to be a brilliant success.


BCHS serves a community that includes areas of deprivation. “It’s a fantastic family school,” says Chinery, who has been with the same group of youngsters since they started aged 11. “I’ve got really attached to these students. I wanted everybody to come and celebrate at the end of the year if possible.”


Left to right: headteacher Diane Atkinson and pupils Moaaz Sidat, Chloe Ritchie, Aneesah Hussain and Damian Mariner, with Gary Chinery before Blackburn central high school’s prom on a budget.


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On Tuesday night, 120 16-year-olds will dress up in their finest for a three-course dinner at a local hotel. There will be 150 cupcakes with the school logo, one photographer, two limousines and goodie bags. Looking on will be 60 proud members of staff – none more so than Chinery.


Sarah Burns runs Prom Fayres UK, which stages events to bring together the burgeoning number of businesses providing prom services and school prom organisers. She claims the industry – from the venue and car hire to the designer dresses, chocolate fountains, fun casinos and spray tan – is worth £80m.


“Some of the mothers look at it as a mini-wedding,” she says. “They get really giddy, the mums. The girls love it because it’s their first red carpet event – they’re watching what goes on in America, they’re into the Kardashians.”


There are, however, prom refuseniks. One UK headteacher estimated that 30% of his year-11s would not turn up for one reason or another. (In the US, high school students boycott official proms and organise “morps” – prom backwards – as an alternative.)


Orsett Hall in Essex is a veteran venue in the school prom business. It has been hosting them for the last 15 years, and this season it has 35 bookings over the next few weeks – even squeezing two in on one night to fit them all in.


For £39.95 – the most expensive package – you get a three-course meal, limitless soft drinks, a DJ, one bouncer and the services of a prom coordinator. Extras include a photo booth (£350 for three hours and 200 prints), thrones for the prom king and queen (£30), a red carpet (£25) and the hire of the bridal suite to get ready for the evening (£150).


Hair and makeup packages include two “hair ups” for £50; a spray tan, gelish nails with “hair up” for £70, or full makeup plus “hair up” for £80.


“The hairdresser who did my daughter’s hair for prom said it’s a much bigger business than weddings now,” said one mother.


Orsett Hall has seen teenagers arrive in helicopters (£800+VAT), fire engines, Hummer limos and US-style big-rig trucks. Elsewhere, they’ve turned up for proms on mobility scooters, in a horse and carriage and a US police car.


“I’ve seen them for 15 years, so I’ve seen it all,” says Scott Carey, of the hotel’s events team. “We’ve had quite a few come back years later when they get married or to have their engagement parties, or birthday parties.”


Patsy Kane, executive headteacher of two girls’ schools in Manchester, has students whose families originate from many different parts of the world and the prom has become a celebration of diversity, reflected in the dresses and jewellery.


Tickets this year cost £27, but a student organising committee has been working for months on raising money through tombolas and cake sales to keep costs down. There are prizes for the best hair and the best dress, as well as the overall prom queen.


“The girls really go to town – they wear beautiful outfits. The hair’s beautiful, the makeup is beautiful, and they really enjoy making an effort. There aren’t any boys because we’re schools for girls, and every year someone says: ‘Can we invite boys?’


“And we don’t, because it’s a wonderful celebration of friendship. It’s very special. It goes beyond the commercial. I don’t think it’s a big thing how much your dress cost – that’s not something that gets asked.


“It’s just a wonderful, wonderful atmosphere. They’ve been together for five years. It’s hard for them to realise they are not going to see each other every day any more. They all say they’re going to keep in touch, but they won’t be able to. It’s the end of an era.”


Things have changed a bit since Chinery left school and joined the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. “There was no prom back in the day,” he says.


“We had it in the staff room – we had some biscuits, some crisps and some bottles of pop, and we sat round talking to the teachers. And that was it.”

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05:23 Publié dans Mode | Tags : school proms | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


3 Unbelievable Stories of Mothers of the Groom Behaving Badly

Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007. Here, she dishes on the craziest mother-in-law stories.


It's hard to be the mother of the groom. Rarely do you get the credit for planning anything other than the rehearsal dinner and you definitely have to be prepared to play a backseat role to the mother of the bride. And if you're not terribly close to your future daughter in law, you might not have had much input on the wedding plans in general.


Here's the thing, it's great if the groom's mother can play an active role in the wedding planning if the bride wants her help. But if the bride has politely declined assistance, or you're just not that close to each other, sometimes it's better to look pretty, keep your opinions to yourself, and just be a well-behaved VIP at the wedding and reception. Even if you feel left out, don't take it out on the bride.


Crazy Mother In Law


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I've met some horrible, awful, really bad mothers of the groom at weddings over the years. Here are three of my favorite examples:


The MOG Who Taunted the Bride


At one wedding, we had a rain delay. So we had to execute a "Plan B" and move things under cover. While we were moving everything, the groom's mother was running in and out of the bridal suite playing "Chicken Little" and telling the bride the sky was falling and everything was a mess. She just wanted to upset the bride. Everything was fine. The bridesmaids eventually tossed her out.


The MOG Who Wouldn't Take No for an Answer


Sometimes the bride and groom do not want to follow the cultural traditions of their families, and so they opt to leave them out of their wedding plans. I recently had a mother of the groom who was determined to include the traditional capias (little lacy doilies the bride and groom pin on each guest in Puerto Rico) even though the wedding couple didn't want to do them. The bride acquiesced and agreed to have them displayed in a basket with a note at the reception, but the minute the couple was away taking formal pictures, themother of the groom and her sisters ran around and pinned doilies on every guests. Not exactly what the bride and groom wanted to see in their wedding photos.


The MOG Who Was Completely Insensitive


The bride's family wasn't in attendance at the wedding — I mean not one single family member. It was lovely to see how her fiancé's family truly embraced her. Except for the hurtful, sneaky little stunts the mother of the groom kept trying to pull. The worst was when she requested the song "We Are Family" from the DJ. He played it, not knowing any better. Til we told him what was going on and took all family-related music off the table for future requests.

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07:49 Publié dans Mode, wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


Hutt's Eco Fashion week opens new potential for designers

Fashionable handbags and totes made using tyre inner tubes. A joke, surely?


Wainuiomata eco designer Zorro Potion enjoys the look that comes across people's faces when she shows them her bags - this reporter included. They are really clever, practical and attractive.


Best of all, Zorro says, no animal gave up its skin or fur so they could be made.


Potion says she has been making clothes for herself from upcycled garments all her life but it wasn't until fellow Wainuiomatian Denise Anglesey put on the inaugural New Zealand Eco Fashion Week in 2013 that she "came out of the closet" to show her fashion in a public setting.


She says it was a "resounding success" and without her chasing it, all sorts of opportunities have come her way.


Two of her women's fashion garments were shown in the Eco part of London Fashion Week and among a series of photoshoots for which she was asked to create styles was a session with Miss Universe New Zealand.


Wainuiomata upcycled fashion designer Zorro Potion, models one of her Ghost Train label dresses, and a handbag she made using a tyre inner tube.  She is in the Eco Fashion Week pop-up shop in Petone.


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For Saturday's third annual Eco Fashion Week runway show, current Miss Universe NZ model Rachel Milnes will be modelling an outfit from Potion's 'Ghost Train' label - a reference to her love of skull motifs.


Potion is also dressing runway event MC, actress Geraldine Brophy and will be creating some of the costumes for Brophy's upcoming children's play at The Little Theatre, Snow Bright.


Potion, who has 34 bee hives on her Wainuiomata lifestyle block, hates waste and says there is too much of it in the rag trade. Imported garments, including from factories where working conditions are from from ideal, are so cheap that too many of us throw them out and buy something new on a whim, instead of mending or re-purposing them.


It's a lament another eco designer "from the Nui", Lisa Winter, agrees with.


Winter wasn't even a sewer until a back injury forced her to slow




"I wanted something good to come out of it, and something for my two daughters," she says.


A friend showed her some stitches on a sewing machine "and I got the bug".


It was both the price of new fabric, and "doubts about where it came from, and what had been sprayed on it" that encouraged Winter to look at old suits, pinafores and men's jackets as a source of material for making children's fashion. Extra large women's vests provided more than enough fabric for a kid's dress.


As well as the environmentally-conscious angle, what she creates under her LilyRose label are one-offs or very short runs. "You're not going to get five children in the same class wearing the same thing."


A layered girl's dress made from a thermal drape sample was one of Winter's outfits that won applause when she debuted at last year's Eco Fashion Week.


This year army blankets are her source material.


"I had been touched by all the World War One commemorations and wanted to instill in my daughters how important the Anzacs were."


Little coats, jackets and dresses she has made from the sturdy grey material are an echo of our history, and Winter has emphasised that by retaining the Wellington Wool Co labels, and one blanket even still had the soldier's surname stitched into the cloth. Brass buttons and crocheted red woollen poppies complete the look, and 30 per cent of of sales proceeds will be going to the Lower Hutt Memorial RSA.


More than 35 fashion designers from New Zealand and abroad are set to showcase their collections on the runway in the main event on June 13. Among those on the runway modelling Winter's outfits will be her daughters, Charlotte, 6, and Hayley, 7.




■ Eco Pop Up store at 127 Jackson St, until June 12.


■ Tuesday June 9 - Official opening of the third annual NZ Eco Fashion Week at Sacred Heart College Performing Arts Centre.


■ Wednesday, June 10 - True Cost, director Andrew Morgan's movie about the price the world is paying for fashion, including the impact on sweat shop workers in developing nations. 8pm, The Light House Cinema, Petone.


■ Thursday June 11 - An evening with Miranda Brown, director of Conscious Cloth, Dowse Art Museum, 7pm.


■ Friday, June 12 - Get the Sante Runway Make up Look, a free event with registration.


■ Saturday June 13, Kila's Style Wardrobe swap and style. Find out how to create a unique look from good quality recycled fashion. Bring along your unwanted, good quality clothing to swap for new items.


■ Saturday June 13, the Eco Fashion Designer Runway. A showcase of organic, ethical, up- cycled and re-cycled fashion.

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08:56 Publié dans Mode | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)