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New York teens create wild prom outfits with funky fabric — duct tape — for design contest

Kids these days aren’t just making wallets out of duct tape — they’re crafting three-piece suits and ball gowns from the stuff.

New York’s own Josie Authers and Jessica Ong, both 17, are two artistically adept teens who have created entire ensembles out of the fix-everything tape and earned acclaim as finalists in the Duck Brand’s 24th annual Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest for a chance to win $15,000 for college.

“Fashion has been a really big creative outlet for me,” Authers, who created a multicolored patchwork tuxedo with a hand-knitted sweater vest, told The Post.

“Throughout high school, I kind of became known as the girl who would knit in class,” the Manhattan student added, noting that she wanted to incorporate her hobby into the design.

The recently graduated high school student and avid knitter created her own duct tape yarn by hand in order to knit the ensemble’s cerulean sweater vest, which she said took multiple attempts to perfect.

For the three months it took to create the finished product, her bedroom floor was covered in duct tape rolls, strips and scraps as she pieced together her tuxedo comprised of a wide array of patterns, like black and white strips, green and white polka dots, pink plaid and mustard yellow patches.

The oversized nature of the suit is a nod to her love of thrifting and upbringing while wearing hand-me-down items.

“I thought patchwork would be a very cool way to show off a bunch of different colors, a bunch of different patterns,” said Authers, who used 25 rolls of duct tape to complete the suit. “I decided on this because I wanted it to be very youthful, something very inspired by the kind of things I would make.”

Ong, who hails from Great Neck, New York, opted to make a gown for her contest entry, which required 98 hours and 36 rolls of duct tape.

“I’ve always had an interest in things like arts and crafts, which led me to explore other unconventional scholarships like the Stuck at Prom competition,” Ong, whose interest in fashion was first piqued during the COVID-19 pandemic when she began reselling clothes on e-comm site Depop, told The Post.

“I’m also a first-generation student, and with how expensive higher education is nowadays, I knew that I needed to enter into some type of scholarship.”

The incoming high school senior paid homage to her late grandmother by incorporating butterflies into the design of the dress, which is adorned with blue butterfly wings on the bodice and skirt.

“If you see the colors that I use for the dress and just what butterflies represent — the grace and the beauty — I just really felt that it embodies her grace and spirit,” said Ong, who also runs the Haven Heart Flea Market in the Lower East Side.

The incoming high school senior paid homage to her late grandmother by incorporating butterflies into the design of the dress, which is adorned with blue butterfly wings on the bodice and skirt.

Of course, with high-achieving kids comes proud parents.

At times, Ong’s had to hold her “accountable” when she procrastinated or wanted to give up on her gown. Meanwhile, Authers’ parents have been eagerly emailing friends and family to encourage them to vote for her entry.

“My dad, in particular, ended up hanging up this suit on the wall in the middle of the living room as an art piece because he’s very proud of it,” Authers said. “It’s almost become a joke that he’s more excited to show people the suit than I am.”

The public can place their votes for the contest until July 10.

Winners for both the tuxedo and gown categories will be announced around July 17.


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