Not enough to have the right prom frock

20th June 2003 at 01:00
Arriving tucked in the back of a motorised, four-poster bed is a fail-safe way to guarantee a dramatic entrance to a party.

This was the reasoning of two Year 11 pupils at Deer Park comprehensive, in Gloucestershire, who this term arrived at their end-of-year prom reclining on an eiderdown, while a nightcap-wearing chauffeur negotiated the corners.

As American-style school proms become increasingly popular in Britain, so too does the impetus to spend time and effort on extravagant preparations. Limousines and tuxedos have become commonplace, as has the expenditure that this necessitates.

At Deer Park, several pupils arrived in the bucket of a JCB. Others hired a fire engine. In previous years, prom-goers have rented an army vehicle, an ice-cream van and a double-decker bus. One girl arrived side-saddle on a horse.

Julia Clark, prom organiser at Deer Park, said: "They are out to see who can come in the most unusual form of transport."

But competitive eccentricity also adds to the cost of the evening. At Wootton Bassett comprehensive, in Wiltshire, one boy arrived in traditional Indian dress, complete with gold slippers. Another wore full military uniform.

Jenny Ferris, head of Year 11 at Wootton Bassett, said: "One girl's mother paid pound;400 for a dress. But some girls' mothers make their dresses."

Rosemary Watson, who owns a dress shop in Gloucestershire, believes that the prom dress is second only to the wedding dress in importance. "The 16-year-olds flounce around until they get what they want. It's a big money-spinner," she said.

Vic Scutt, head of Light Hall school, in Solihull, where pupils arrive at the prom in horse-drawn carriages and open-top buses, said: "Parents spend a lot of money."

Lynne Pirrie, 15, a Year 10 student at Deer Park, is already making plans for next year.

She said: "It's the last time you'll see everyone, before they go off and do different things. You've just got to look the part."

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