We love seeing the next generation of Latinas flaunt their creativity and cultural pride, and it’s rewarding to see them being recognized for their talents. While making clothing, especially formal attire, out of duct tape might be an unusual feat for many, this Latina teen from California showed that with the right amount of time, hard work, and effort, you can make beautiful pieces with unconventional materials.
Recently, Los Angeles teen Karla Torres won the Dress Grand Prize of the annual Duck Brand “Stuck at Prom” duct tape gown-making contest. Torres used 14 rolls of duct tape and spent about 120 hours in creating her elaborate dress, which she says was inspired by 18th-century French art she saw at the Getty Museum in LA.
“I was captivated by the amount of gold and extravagant paintings they had on display. It was a time period of luxurious gowns full of lace, floral prints, ribbons, and ruffles,” Torres wrote in her submission. “I used the colors of pastel pink, white, and gold duct tape for the design of my dress. I decided to take inspiration from the Rococo era through my own personal interest in fashion. I am fascinated by clothes and how it has evolved through the course of history. Although we are in the 21st century, it doesn’t stop us from dressing up from any time period.”
After winning the top spot in the Dress Category, the 18-year-old was awarded a $10,000 scholarship. Earlier this month, Torres told ABC News in an interview that the sticky award-winning gown was the first dress she ever made out of duct tape. After graduating from Los Angeles’ Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Boyle Heights, she’s currently a business student at Cal State Fullerton. She was the only contestant from California to make it to the final round of judging.
“It would be an honor to win this scholarship as a first generation Latina student,” she previously wrote in an email to KTLA before she was announced as winner. “I hope to serve as an example for my community that anything is possible!”
Torres isn’t the only Latinx winner however; Ian Hernandez Rojas of Taylorsville, Utah won the Tux Grand Prize of the “Stuck at Prom” contest. Choosing to honor his Salvadoran roots, Rojas created a Mayan-inspired tux representing Kukulkan, the feathered serpent god of Mayan and Aztec folklore. The tux, made of black and gold-colored duct tape, features a necktie, a headpiece with red, white, blue and gold “feathers‚” and a snake of green, red and gold.
“This year and last year, I’ve kind of been interested in where my parents are from and where my family’s from,” Hernandez told the Salt Lake Tribune, discussing his research of Mayan history, wood carvings and art. “I was inspired by their art, [and] to do it on the tux, and I just wanted to pay tribute to our family roots.”
The Utah teen, who was also awarded a $10,000 scholarship, says that like Torres, it was his first time making a tux from duct tape. He said he didn’t show his mother the tux until he was finished and that his family was proud of him for the way he chose to pay tribute to his roots.
We love to see Latinx excellence thrive, and this new generation is proving that regardless of circumstance, our community can achieve anything it sets its mind to.