Saturday, November 14, 2009

Diva in a Duct Tape Dress

Published June 23, 2006, in the Keizertimes

Kayla Koch's fashion portfolio could include just one piece and it would still tip the scales at more than 60 pounds.

It's her prom dress and it's made of duct tape.

"I started out making Barbie clothes out of it, but then I started making clothes for myself," said Koch, 17, of Silverton.

She stepped up her game this spring though.

"It started out as a big joke, I started telling friends I was going to wear a duct tape dress and then I had to live up to it," she said.

She started with sketches, but given the exceptional properties of her fabric choice, working from a sketch simply wasn't working at all.

"I have a designing manequin, so I finally just decided to see what could be done," she said.

She decided on a basic form, a strapless, swooping waistline, and went to work.

"I had the top completely finished, but I had no idea how to do the ruffles," she said.

She finally settled on creating large sheets of duct tape that could then be cut into strips and taped together in a flaring pattern. To create the sheets of tape, she had to tape an initial layer to a flat surface, usually a wall, then rip it off together and cover the other side with another protective layer of tape.

"It was a mess and I would get tangled in it," she said.

But she wasn't anywhere near done. She still had to make a suit for her date, fiance Joe Gustafson.

To get the form right, the couple bought a second-hand jacket to cover with tape and some bits of fabric to cover the more delicate areas covered by the pants.

Gustafson had to stand for up to two hours at a time while Koch covered him with duct tape. Comfortable wasn't the word Gustafson would use to describe the experience.

"I sweated like a hog," he said.

If the project seemed nearly finished, Koch still wasn't done.

"I was looking at one of my old dresses and it had a floral pattern, which I thought I would look good," she said.

The prom was three days away. That meant a road trip for Gustafson, who had to go to Woodburn to find more yellow duct tape and frenzied last-minute work for Koch who stayed home to work on the dress and suit, which was now pen-striped in yellow.

"We were supposed to be taking pictures at 3 p.m. the day of the prom, and I was still working on the dress at 3:15," she said.

In the end, Gustafson's yellow duct tape tie was adorned with a similar floral pattern and Koch got all the flowers she wanted and silver sequins on the dress top.

Despite the pains of the process, their reception at the school prom made all the headaches worth it.

"They special-announced us and put us on a special area of the stage so everyone could see," said Koch. "I only told five people I was going to do it, but everyone knew by the time we got there."

In the end, the dress and suit, tie, necklace and purse took about 22 rolls of duct tape to complete. Cost: About $70, still cheaper than the dress Koch bought to actually dance it.

"There was no way I could dance in the duct tape dress, I can only move my feet about six inches at a time," she said.

After the dance her dress and suit were on display in the school for the final two weeks of class and Koch was voted most unique in her graduating class.

"That's me, though," she said. "I'm always doing things a little bit differently."

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