“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Coco Chanel
It was the teenager’s Senior Prom last weekend, or Leavers Ball as it’s now officially known here in Abu Dhabi and that meant a whirl of up-do’s, painted nails, false eyelashes and glitter as everything came together for the big night. I’m not going to pretend that the lead-up to this finale in the school social calendar was a smooth or even fun ride but we got there in the end and most importantly she was happy, eventually.
The concept of prom originates from the United States popularised worldwide by American movies and TV show and now adopted in many countries across the globe as a finale for senior year. Here in the UAE it’s very popular with events held at the end of Year 6 (age 11), Year 11 (age 16) and Sixth Form (age 18). Whichever country you originate from and whatever you call it, school formal, social or leavers ball the idea is the same, boys in black tie and girls in pretty dresses to celebrate milestones in their educational journey.
Eight days before the event there was no dress, not even a scrap of fabric had been purchased and slight panic reigned. Now don’t think I’d been a slack mother here, just like the Year 11 prom two years ago we had been on numerous and I mean numerous shopping expeditions and nothing was to her liking even after trying on several styles in many different fabrics and colours. A dress design was then plucked from the internet and we made a last ditch attempt to get a dress made in the short time that remained, cue panic stricken late night drive to tailors after an abandoned afternoon visit to the shop to realise it shuts for three hours every afternoon!
As you can see from the photos below everything worked out really well in the end, our tailor at Joury Tailors was fantastic and the fabric shop opposite was filled with an array of beautiful fabrics in every design, detail and colour of the rainbow you could possibly imagine. Scribbles on a scrap of paper and patterns cut from old newspapers didn’t fill me with the greatest confidence to be honest but when the prototype was knocked up in lining and ready for the first fitting within twenty-four hours I felt more confident. Apart from a slight hiccup when the tailor was admitted to hospital, five separate fittings and a wad of cash later the dress was ready the day before it was needed, insert HUGE sigh of relief here. All that was left was to dig out the sparkly prom shoes, borrow a bag that matched perfectly, visits to salons for manicure, pedicure and hair, apply the lashes and make-up and she was all ready to go. How much easier it was to have two boys, hire or buy a suit, add a tie and pocket square in the girl’s dress colour and they were good to go.
One of the girl’s parents held a fabulous pre-prom drinks for a large group of students and their respective parents. The effort and attention to detail at the party was well received by all, large foil balloons, bunting in school colours, miniature jars of candy, bottles of bubbles and pimms served in mason jars decorated with colour co-ordinated poms poms and straws. The boys arrived with fresh flowers corsages for their dates, thousands of photos were taken and with a tear in our eye we waved off our offspring aboard the Abu Dhabi open-top double decker bus as they were transported to the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr to rendezvous with the rest of their year group and the teachers at the event held in the hotel’s ballroom.
A few hours later prom dresses were discarded on the floor and normal party attire was the order of the latter part of evening ready for the all-night (for some most of the next day too) after party. A great end to their final year at the British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) before it was back to study and exams resumed this week, the final push before the long summer break and university looms.
All the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.