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Since 2007, the Princess Project San Diego has been "dressing and accessorizing financially-challenged high school girls for their proms." I found out about the project (the original chapter of which was founded over 10 years ago in San Francisco) through my friend Jodi Kodesh, weekly morning meteorologist at NBC San Diego and emcee of the Princess Project San Diego Runway Event since its inception. This year, I was asked to be one of the "local celebrity" judges for the live prom dress draping competition. Each contestant was a first year student at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising): Temy Gonzalez, Ana Gonzalez, Joscelyn Ramirez, Heather Bray, and Shailaja Fnu.

Projection in the pool during the event

The Runway Event was held at the pool roof deck of Hotel Palomar downtown.

Jodi holding her award

To show their appreciation for all of her hard work and dedication to the project, organizers surprised Jodi with a commemorative plaque.

The designers lined up and ready to go

Inside, there were baskets of goodies donated from organizations and companies from all over the region. Some were raffled off, and others were bid for in a silent auction. While the approximately 170 guests nibbled on pass-arounds provided by the hotel's restaurant, Saltbox, or sipped the signature cocktail of the evening (gin, lemon, and champagne), the young designers got to work.

Fashion sketch by designer Temy

Designer Heather hard at work

Designers arrived with a box of materials, and their concept sketches. Once they were allowed to begin dressing their mannequins, they had only one hour to complete their work.

One of the designers, Shailaja, was from India, where they don't have prom. She designed the sort of prom dress she would have wanted to wear, had she been able to attend such an event.

Shailaja working on her dress

Ana puts finishing touches on her dress

This dress had a lovely cascade of flower petals

After an hour, Bibbidi-Bobbido-Boo! all mannequins were dressed and ready for the ball.

Finished dresses from the back

Finished dresses from the front

Once the judges numbers were tallied, Jodi announced the winners. Ana Gonzalez, the Runner Up, received $50 to spend at Yardage Town, and Winner Shailaja Fnu received $100 to spend at Yardage Town.

Jodi announces the runner-up and winner

Dress Giveaways are scheduled to take place between April 10 and April 20. For a full list, with dates and locations, check the Princess Project San Diego website.

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