One major theme that has defined this prom season amidst the march of celebrity red carpet replica dresses has been African-inspired designs.
From the Black Lives Matter movement to bullied New Jersey teen Kyemah McEntyre's Insta-famous original prom gown design last year, this season seemed like the perfect storm for fashion's youth trend embracing wax, ikat, and batik prints for prom.
So, when Ohio high school student Makalaya Zander's white teacher advised her that an African-print themed prom dress wasn't something that should be worn to prom, she couldn't have been more out of touch.
Makalaya's prom dress was inspired by an Ankara gown worn by Nigerian model Jessica Chibueze to a gala. And the finished product – a printed, body-skimming fishtail dress in royal blue – looked stunning.
Under an Instagram photo with her prom date, Makalaya detailed her exchange with the disapproving teacher, how the dress came to be, and her reaction to the final results:
Thank you to everyone who gave me kind words on my prom dress. My date doesn't have social media so he's kinda nonchalant lol. The dress came after seeing the beautiful @jessnnecee wearing one similar to a ball. After discussing how beautiful it was and that I would do a african theme with a ) teacher I was told it wasn't really "something you wear to prom" Hellbent on proving them wrong and being someone who loves our culture and African glamorous style , me and @indelible_dc decided to take the Ankara dress and put a twist on it. Little did I know it came out more beautiful, then I could've ever imagine!! My dress was to make a point. That African style is beautiful. That I am comfortable with my Melanin and roots. And finally that there's nothing like Black girl Magic❤️
A photo posted by -MK (@_blazemoney) on May 16, 2016 at 7:53am PDT
A photo posted by -MK (@_blazemoney) on May 13, 2016 at 6:16pm PDT
There are so many brave and creative young people in the world, we just wish there were as many teachers to inspire and encourage them.
Congrats on the dress, Makalaya!
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.