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Tape That

CHICAGO -- When Natalie Williams and Christopher Eaton strolled into the Oak Park-River Forest High School prom, heads turned, girls pointed and some even gasped.<P>Not only was the couple striking -- Williams in a long white strapless gown with...

CHICAGO — When Natalie Williams and Christopher Eaton strolled into the Oak Park-River Forest High School prom, heads turned, girls pointed and some even gasped.

Not only was the couple striking — Williams in a long white strapless gown with sparkling white choker and Eaton in a red, white and blue Uncle Sam-inspired tuxedo — but their outfits were completely made of duct tape.

The couple, who perfected their look only hours before the prom at the Hyatt Regency downtown, entered the 2002 “Stuck at Prom” contest sponsored nationwide by Manco Duck Tape. The winners will be announced in mid-July with the first place couple winning $2,500 each.

Williams spent 40 hours over a three-week period making her dress. She started in a leotard and rolled tape mummy-like across her chest for the bodice and then cut an intricate design in the back. She then added a slit in the front through which peeked a red ruffled underskirt — in duct tape, of course. For the dance itself, she replaced the leotard with a thin layer of tissue paper to protect her skin. She also constructed an evening bag with long braided twists of tape for straps, handles and front pattern, which she accented with real orchids. Even her red, white and blue wrist corsage was made of tape.

Meanwhile, her date, 18-year-old Eaton, a senior at Oak Park-River Forest, logged in nearly 10 hours assembling his tuxedo. While he taped over a real shirt and cowboy hat, his coat, pants, vest and shoes were tape only.

Williams, a dance major at Northern Illinois University, said she’s normally shy when it comes to fashion and prefers dancing to designing. But the couple had a just-off-the-runway effect at the dance. “Everyone kept asking for pictures,” she said. “Most of our time was spent talking about it.”