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Florida teen's dress made out of duct tape places first in national competition

The first place prize is college scholarship money.

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — After over 100 hours of designing and nearly a month of anxiously awaiting results, a Pasco County teen won first place in a national competition for her gown made out of duct tape

Grace Vaughn's dress, inspired by the Yin and Yang theory, won first place in the dress category for Duck brand's Stuck at Prom 2022 Scholarship Contest. Chidinma Onwuliri of Mississauga, Ontario took home the prize for Best Tux. 

There were over 100 entries in the competition.

Vaughn, a 17-year-old Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School rising senior, will be awarded a $10,000 cash scholarship to help fund her dream of studying fashion and design at the Savannah College of Art and Design.  

The teen was in North Carolina for a running camp when she got an email Wednesday that started with the word "congratulations."

"I said, 'Oh my gosh, this is it,'" Vaughn said. 

She had to keep her accomplishment a secret until it was officially announced by Duck brand later in the day. 

"Each of our contestants had a special story to tell this year, from hoping to empower others with their designs to pushing their artistic abilities to the limit, and they should all be very proud of their Duck Tape® looks," said Ashley Luke, the senior product manager at Shurtape Technologies, LLC, the company that markets the Duck brand in a statement.  

For Vaughn, the reward goes much deeper than just a cash prize. 

"I was super excited because I knew that it was kind of the first step into my fashion career," she said. 

Vaughn has dreamed of going to SCAD since her freshman year of high school. A recruiter from the college came to her school showing pamphlets of designs and creations from students as well as the campus.

She even got to visit the college during the summer of 2021.

"I loved how the campus was really in tune with the city of Savannah," she said. "It was everything I would hope it would be."

The scholarship prize will help immensely to cover costs, she said, and it feels good to have one of her designs recognized.

"I think I'm pretty shocked that people like it this much," the teen joked. 

Her mother, Krissy Vaughn, is elated to see her daughter's hard work pay off. She watched the dress come to life over the 143 hours it took her to finish.

"As I watched her work on it in the family room, I really had no idea what was going to happen because she just works meticulously and focused," Krissy said. "I was pretty blown away that it came out to look like that."

Not only will the scholarship be a huge help, but it'll be great for her resume when she applies to fashion school, she said. She's excited to see people recognize Vaughn's creativity and talent. 

"We see it all the time, but its hard to have everyone else see that," she said. "We're very proud of her, and we know she'll be doing great things. It is just a matter of watching it all unfold."

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