This High Schooler Turned Her Prom Dress Into a Work of Art

The front of Julia's Van Gogh-inspired dress. Photo courtesy Julia Reidhead/KTAR.com.
The front of Julia's Van Gogh-inspired dress. Photo courtesy Julia Reidhead/KTAR.com.

Like many high schoolers, 18-year-old Julia Reidhead knew that she wanted something special to wear to prom. But after trying on tons of dresses and not finding one that was "her," the artistically minded teen from Mesa, Arizona, came up with an unorthodox plan: She would make her own. She and her mother purchased a used wedding dress for $40, and then Julia painted her own version of one of her favorite pieces of art  Van Gogh's "Starry Night"  over the fabric, creating a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind dress.

"I had painted on other stuff before, like shoes, but that made me confident that I could paint on a dress," Reidhead tells Yahoo Shine. She sketched a design on the dress in pencil, then tested her acrylic paints on an extra swatch of fabric to make sure they would work.

The overall process of painting the dress took more than 40 hours spread out over one week, and Reidhead was still drying the gown with a blow-dryer five minutes before her date came to pick her up for the dance. 

The back of the dress, which was designed to mirror the front. Photo courtesy Julia Reidhead/KTAR.com
The back of the dress, which was designed to mirror the front. Photo courtesy Julia Reidhead/KTAR.com

Once Reidhead arrived at the dance, all eyes were on her. "People made me stop  they wanted to take pictures, they said they were going to put it on Pinterest and Instagram," she says. In fact, she got so many inquiries about how she'd made the dress that, by the end of the night, her date, fellow senior Alden Durfee, could repeat Reidhead's story right along with her. She is now getting requests from others to make painted skirts and ties, and someone is helping her set up an Etsy store so that she can sell some of her pieces.

For Reidhead, who will be entering a graphic design program at Utah Valley University but is considering making a switch to art school, the act of painting her dress was its own reward. She is also planning to enter her masterpiece in a contest focused on art made from recycled objects, and make it part of her application to art school. And now, thanks to all of the people who want to purchase her work, she won't have any trouble paying the tuition.

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