Elaborate duct tape dress wins Los Angeles teen a national scholarship contest

Karla Torres, a recent graduate of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Boyle Heights, emerged as the recipient of a $10,000 scholarship in the competition’s online poll, having garnered the highest number of votes for her attire.

Torres, an 18-year-old finalist in last month’s 23rd annual “Stuck at Prom” scholarship contest, vied for the votes in the competition sponsored by Duck Tape, a trademarked duct tape brand. She had to go up against five other teenage dressmakers.

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“I became extremely thrilled,” Torres exclaimed. “I simply had a strong desire to share with others.”

She was able to tell her immediate family, including her mom, who helped bring her dress to life, that it was gold, white, and pink, she said.

“We commenced bouncing up and down,” she chuckled, reflecting on the moment with her mother. “It’s incredible, it doesn’t feel authentic.”

According to her, the dress that will soon be her design, displayed at Duck Tape headquarters in Ohio, features past winners. Torres’ dress, a complex pattern showcasing intricate lace and floral motifs, drew inspiration from 18th-century French artwork that she encountered during a visit to the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Torres expressed, “It’s extremely impressive. Being chosen as the sole representative from California, and particularly from Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, it’s a competition of national scope… My gown will be transported all the way to the opposite side of the country.”

Torres mentioned that the $10,000 scholarship will be greatly beneficial as she plans to attend college close to her family for the first time. Despite receiving substantial financial assistance, she expressed feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of expenses and fees associated with her first year at a California State University.

However, she is aware of one thing, her initial acquisition using the grant funds will be a brand new laptop.

She mentioned, “I attended middle school at some point, but I can’t even remember when exactly it happened. I have a very slow and outdated laptop, which is why I really want a new one.”

She plans to study business marketing in college, ideally focusing on the fashion industry. She said that her relatives in Mexico even saw her featured in the news, helping propel her into the field. She hopes that this contest will garner media attention and aid her in achieving her dreams.

Torres said, “I will always be interested in something that’s interesting.” “I hope to intern in a fashion company in the future,” after this competition.

Among the top five dress designs that were chosen, Torres’ gown was selected as the contest’s entry out of more than 200 options. Ian Hernandez Rojas from Taylorsville, Utah, emerged as the winner among the top five finalists for tuxedos, wearing a suit that paid tribute to his Salvadoran heritage.

In a statement, Ashley Luke, the senior product manager at Shurtape Technologies, the company that promotes the Duck Tape brand, expressed that the top 10 finalists put forth their utmost effort, ranging from gaining popularity on social media to conducting interviews with the media. This year’s contest attracted many talented teenagers, as exemplified by Ian and Karla, who showcased their creativity by transforming ordinary materials, like Duck Tape, into artful attire.