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Newburyport high school senior makes duct tape prom dress

Newburyport High School senior Jillian Stallard poses in her duct tape prom dress

Jillian Stallard, a recent graduate of Newburyport High School, was scrolling through her Instagram news feed when she came across an ad for a contest. The rules? Create a one-of-a-kind prom dress or tuxedo. The catch? It must be made with duct tape. Below are her words behind her creative process.

Jillian Stallard - Newburyport High School Senior poses in Duct Tape Prom Dress


What inspired the design of your dress?

As we all know, high school proms across the nation looked immensely different this year. As I was told my own senior prom would be cancelled, I felt inspired to dive into my own type of quarantine project. When I stumbled across the Stuck at Prom scholarship contest, I thought what an ironic scholarship, an event in which so few could actually participate in. That is what inspired this concept design, I wanted to create a prom dress that reflects the global situation and struggles we are currently in. This dress is not only a sort of memorial to the lost proms this year, but a monument to the essential workers and heroes who battle this pandemic every day.

Jillian Stallard - Newburyport High School Senior poses in Duct Tape Prom Dress

The design process took some time as I gathered ideas on what type of dress to create and how to incorporate my vision into reality. I wanted to achieve a contagious, but elegant look – a dress I would actually wear to prom. I decided to turn the virus into a design pattern, based on the many images I have seen of Covid-19. The virus is a circle shape with crowned edges, giving it its name, the crowned virus.

With this concept in mind, I thought no better way to represent the crowned virus than with a traditional prom queen tiara and sash. Incorporating these two elements was also the most suitable way to thank the selfless workers on the front lines of this pandemic. The crown reads “thank you” and the sash reads “2020 heroes: doctors, nurses, essential workers”. 

Jillian Stallard - Newburyport High School Senior poses in Duct Tape Prom Dress

Color choice was incredibly important to me as well. I embellished the dress and clutch in the coronavirus pattern using purple, red and silver, which are the symbolic colors of the virus frequently used in modern media when referring to the pandemic. Protecting ourselves against this virus is ‘the silver lining’, thus, the reason I chose silver for the medical mask. The mask also represents the new norm.

My favorite accessory by far is the corsage of red roses displayed on my wrist because it has no ties to the virus. It was made to simply remind us that there is still life outside of this pandemic.

Jillian Stallard - Newburyport High School Senior poses in Duct Tape Prom Dress

What do you love most about living in Newburyport?

The location and the friends I’ve made. Many of us have grown up here climbing boardwalk trees, building sandcastles along Plum Island Beach, eating chocolate chip pancakes at Angie’s, and watching the traditional Thanksgiving football game. Newburyport is a great community to live in.

What are your plans going forward after high school?

I plan on attending JMU (James Madison University) for marketing.

What words would you like to share with your fellow peers?

It’s easy to get discouraged during this pandemic. There are no words to describe what we have been through, but there are also no words to describe our pride and resilience. We are making history by the day and I know it won’t stop in the nearby future!



Congratulations to Jillian and the Newburyport High School Class of 2020!


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Jeni Lu

Jeni Lu

I'm Jeni Lu, a neighborhood guide and Realtor® at Bentley's The RE/MAX Collection. I've spent years finding the best restaurants, shopping, outdoor spots and events so you can enjoy the neighborhood. I look forward to showing you around the Boston North shore and Southern New Hampshire area. If you live in the area or you're thinking of moving here, you've come to the right place!


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