This is the first of six stories in a series about the Forgotten Art of Clothing.Many people buy clothing for the well-known brands that they bear. Imagine a store with tons of Versace, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Via Spiga, Vera Wang, Kenneth Cole, and the like and a person having a free ticket to buy a couple of thousand dollars worth on a nice, cool Saturday evening. Sounds compelling huh?
Well, after you are finished with that fantasy, think of this reality. Some people walk through stores looking for clothing brands that may not fit them correctly or attractively while walking in shoes that may hurt their feet with each step. Before getting to the cash register, they may be contemplating how to pay for clothes that may tend to be not affordable or of lesser quality. In short, some people pay for branding before clothing. Of course, this is many people´s reality especially if they are a I-must-wear-famous-name-brand-cloths or else I will die type of person.
Fortunately, life can be found in the very art of Cloth itself. This is what many people forget and thus they often forget the purpose of clothing. Seems insane, huh?
Well, now I would like to introduce a fabulous concept that invokes independent brands, good will, purpose, and quality as well as the art of clothing oneself.
The Prom Shop Project was created in 2001 by Kim Peters. She was insightful enough to understand that the prom is a gateway to more than a date or corsage but rather an introduction to the Dress itself and the forgotten art of Clothing oneself in a Dress. On a cool Saturday morning, March 28, 2009, Kim used a local art gallery inside South Side on Lamar in Dallas, Texas to allow some lucky young ladies to choose a dress and shoes based on fabulous cloths, colors, designs, and sizes. Since this was the first formal gown for many, brand name was the least important factor. And best of all, the dresses, shoes, and accessories were free to young ladies who qualified. Nearly ninety percent of the attire was donated by people with the remainder of services and items donated by stores such as Kenny’s Cleaners of Dallas, West Lake Cleaners in Austin, Saks Fifth Avenue in Dallas and Austin, Starbucks in Dallas, and the Women´s Musuem of Dallas.
Elise Jackson-Brown who attends Townview Magnet High School said "Its less drama for finding a dress, and its like I go in by myself instead of mommy, so its like me being independent. The first step before prom is being independent. For me, its less stress." Amanda Jackson who attends Poteet High School and West Mesquite in Mesquite Texas stated "I really was not going to go to Prom because of the whole financial aspect ... and because I am a bigger girl ... I have a limited range of where I can look ... so I don't have the same luxury like some". Lori Ayala of Sunset High School stated "We (her an her mom) could not find anything I like and what I like was too expensive". She stated she wanted a "short little puffy prom dress". Like Elise, Amanda, and Lori, there were over four hundred young ladies seeking a dress and expressing there art of the Cloth. "It was amazing to watch these teenage girls actually looking at the cloths, sizes, designs, and style with little attention to the brand" said Renata when I questioned her about the mood of the girls.
Shortly after my conversation with Renata, I listened to the taped interview between Renata Cathey and Kim Peters, the founder of The Prom Shop Project. Renata asked her how she started in 2001 and Kim replied “I thought Prom night was totally about having fun and being appropriate at the end of the evening and then a light clicked on. My first thought was to be a girly-girl dress-up shop and teach etiquette and have fun playing with makeup and lipstick. Never once did I realize I would have 75 plus girls show up (in 2001) that never had a dress before. So it wasn’t about playing Dress-Up and putting makeup on little girls. There was a huge need and here we are almost in 2010 and so many people are understanding that so many girls are needing to understand the purpose of Prom Night and what goes on with peer pressure. That they need a dress and they never had a dress before".
I applaud Kim Peters and her efforts along with other volunteers to educate young women about the "forgotten" art of clothing oneself in a formal Dress. In addition, Kim revealed other factors that are equally a part of the art of clothing oneself such as positive behaviors, good etiquette, and mentorship.
Curtiss Cathey is very interested in the influence of artistic uses of clothing (the art of cloth) on people and how the love of brands can dwarf this influence. This concludes the first of six stories about the Art of the Cloth.