Watch Studio Statesboro video of the Prom event at the Averitt Center. Click on link:
Four years ago, Scott Marchbanks had no idea that his first annual prom dress preview fashion show would turn out to be a "must see" annual event for high school girls throughout southeast Georgia.
"I think the first year we had 150 people come to the fashion show," said Marchbanks, owner of Frills & Fancies on South Main Street in Statesboro. "This year, we sold out two shows totaling 840 tickets. We added a second show, because we didn't have room for everyone that wanted to come last year, and had to turn some people away. I definitely did not want to do that again this year."
Marchbanks produced the shows at the Emma Kelly Theatre in conjunction with Lori Grice, owner of Lori Grice Photography, and Karen Lambert, owner of Serenity Day Spa and Salon. The two shows this past Sunday were a major undertaking with each of the 40 participants modeling four dresses apiece.
Lambert began preparing the girls' hair and makeup at 7:45 a.m. Sunday morning. "This type of an event just gives me energy, and I love it," Lambert said. "The girls are so excited, and it is just a great time. This year's theme was especially fun, Rock Star Prom. I did Katy Perry hair all day."
Mary Grace Smith is a senior at Metter High School, and was one of the models for the show.
"This has been much more exciting than I could have imagined," she said. "I have never been a pageant girl, but I had no idea that it could be this much fun. Maybe, I will start doing this type of thing more. It is such a blast."
Marchbanks' store is one of the largest sellers of prom dresses in southeast Georgia, so much so that he has expanded the number of dressing rooms in the store to 26, and hired 50 part time employees to help during the busy prom season which lasts through April.
"The tough and fun part of this business is that you have to reinvent yourself every year," he said. "Anybody can sell a dress, but we put together an image. We try to be cutting edge in terms of what we offer. This is such a special time for a lot of girls, and we want it to be fun, be safe, and be memorable."
Grice agreed with Marchbanks, and will be serving as a "paparazzi" for a lucky couple on their prom night.
"There are only a few times in a girl's life when a very, special picture is taken," she said. "Your five-year-old portrait, in your wedding dress, and when you go to prom. In a time when things are becoming more and more casual, dressing up becomes more special. It's her night to be Cinderella, and to enjoy it."
The group offered a special prom package that can be bid on until January 31. The package includes a one-of-kind custom designed dress by Sherri Hill, a romantic dinner by executive chef Jason Scarborough, transportation, photography for the evening, and a full spa treatment before the prom.
"One of the things that we are really trying to emphasize is buying local," Marchbanks said. "Buy your dress and pictures here. Get your makeup and hair done here. Eat and have fun here."
The girls that participated in the show represented several different counties including Wayne, Glynn, Appling, Washington, Chatham, Effingham, Evans, Dodge, Bryan, Candler, Long, Jenkins and Bulloch.
Georgia Southern Fashion Merchandising major Lacey Greenway planned and directed this year's show.
"I have known and worked for Scott for three and a half years," she said. "The passion that he has for making prom special is something to behold. He truly loves it, and you can tell that Karen and Lori are having just as much fun as he is having. How could you not enjoy this?"
This year, the group decided to charge an admission fee of $5 which they returned to charity.
At the end of the first show, $500 was presented to the Council for Exceptional Children, $1,000 was given to sponsor a group of three young, male tap dancers — the Carver Boys — in a dance competition, and a $1,000 college scholarship was presented to Alana Rushing for an essay she composed regarding service to your community.
"When you look out into the audience and see the excitement on each girl's face, you know all of the effort and planning have been worth it," he said. "We are so glad that this has become an event, a kickoff to prom season."
Grice said if you would like to bid on the prom package, contact either Lori Grice Photography or Frills & Fancies.