By  on June 12, 2008

There are few events in life that provoke such polarizing reactions as the memory of prom — from a nostalgic sigh to eye-widening horror. The recollections are often a window into the adolescent soul: Were you a rah-rah girly girl, besotted with the quarterback and posing for snapshots on the lawn in a pastel gown? Or were you the kohl-eyed loner, donning Doc Martens with your slipdress? For some designers, of course, prom is big business, and those lingering memories of boutonnieres and crinoline can be ample inspiration for a designer's next line.

"It was absolutely about the petticoat for me," says Betsey Johnson, a perennial go-to designer at prom time (her spring show was themed "Prom Queen"). "I wore a pale blue organza silver embroidered tutu dress. I think I stuck out almost horizontally," says Johnson. "That dress has been a total inspiration for my prom dresses, which are always our bestsellers. So many people in the business tell me they wore my dress to the prom. But I'm careful to do a range of looks, from sophisticated sheaths to that classic half-puffy dress."

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