Shamed Designer Whose Prom Dress Went Viral Fires Back

The designer of a custom-made prom dress that was ridiculed on social media is firing back, saying that the experience has ruined her professional reputation.

This prom dress is the subject of controversy. (Photo: Sham Sincere Lewis/Facebook)
This prom dress is the subject of controversy. (Photo: Sham Sincere Lewis/Facebook)

On June 5, Dee Lewis, an aesthetician from Rochester, N.Y., posted several Facebook photos of her daughter Malexa Maeweather wearing a sheer white prom gown made by local designer Kia Wagner. “R u serious….” Lewis wrote of the dress, the images of which earned 4K shares, 3K reactions, and 2.6K comments from people calling the dress “a mess” and comparing it to “toilet paper.”

“My daughter was devastated and crying when she saw this dress,” Lewis told Yahoo Style at the time. “For a $100 deposit, Kia told my daughter that she would make her something nice with material she already owned and that she wanted to ‘play around with the design.’ Malexa didn’t know anything about what the dress would look like.”

Wagner, however, has a different version of events.

“Malexa contacted me 15 days before her prom and said she wanted ‘something different’ for her dress,” Wagner, 27, a single mother of one in nearby Syracuse, tells Yahoo Style. “She picked out the fabric and met with me four different times, so she knew what the dress was going to look like.”

She added, “I told Malexa that my idea was a sheer dress covered with fluff, and she said, ‘That sounds cute.’”

They agreed on a $100 deposit and $200 for the dress, Wagner says, and over the next two weeks, she and Maeweather met on four separate occasions — two at Wagner’s place of work, one at her grandmother’s house, and one at the clothing store Fashion Universe, where Wagner sells her designs. During the meetings, Wagner says, she took measurements, accepted the deposit, and worked on the dress in Maeweather’s presence.

“I kept asking her, ‘Do you like this?’ Would your mom let you wear it to prom?’” says Wagner. ‘She said, ‘I don’t care — my mom isn’t the one wearing it.’”

During the final meeting, the night before the June 2 prom, Wagner says, Maeweather tried on her dress — which was half finished — and then sent a photo to a family member. “After that, she suddenly didn’t like the dress.”

Wagner says she offered to fix the dress or make Maeweather a new one from scratch, even working through the night if required. “Malexa said she’d come back later, and I never heard from her again — then I saw her mother’s Facebook post,” says Wagner.

Later, Lewis messaged Wagner asking her to refund the $100 deposit, but she declined. “I drove four and a half hours to New York with my daughter to buy the fabric,” says Wagner. “That’s my time and money. I also never got paid for the dress.”

Lewis and Maeweather are now suing Wagner for the $100 deposit, and both parties will appear on the television show The People’s Court on June 28. Wagner is countersuing for pain and suffering. “These people tried to ruin my name as a designer,” she says.

However, the prom dress may get some use yet. Wagner is planning to auction it off on eBay, saying, “It got so much attention, I hope to sell it.”

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