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Teenage Romanian Girls Dress Better Than You

I went to a prom held by an elite high school in Romania and chatted with the girls about their dresses and their plans for the future.
Ioana Moldoveanu
Bucharest, RO

Photo by Mircea Topoleanu

When I graduated high school in 1998, our prom took place in a restaurant in the Romanian seaside. We didn't have the internet back then, so we had to make our dresses ourselves, copying those worn by celebrities in magazines. We did our best to be elegant, but all we had at our disposal were fabrics from leftover communist clothes from the 1980s, which were (at best) a pale grayish color.


So it makes sense then that when I recently found myself at the prom of Saint Sava High School—one of the oldest and most prestigious in Bucharest—I couldn't take my eyes off the glamorous girls in attendance. The event took place at the grand National Palace of the Military, where the photographers almost outnumbered the schoolkids. The whole thing felt like a red carpet event, so I figured I should interview some of the girls.

VICE: Is this what proms are like these days in Romania?
Roxana: Yeah, it's our 12th grade banquet so everybody has to be elegant—it's our time to shine.

Did you get any instructions on how you should dress?
No, we all dressed the way we wanted. I bought this dress especially for this occasion, but I don't think I'll ever wear it again. It's terrible, you have to stand straight and even with heels on, I still step on it. And on top of everything, it's raining.

So you bought this dress partly for you, and partly for everybody else.
Exactly. Don’t tell anybody I said so, but proms are for taking pictures. It's the students' time to look good and show everyone how beautiful we are.

How did you prepare for the banquet?
There's a store near where I live, which is where I bought the dress—it didn't cost a lot but I'm pleased with it. I went to get my makeup done, I did my hair myself, and I tried not to eat too much today.

VICE: How did you prepare for the ball?
Miruna: Like all girls—I tried on all sorts of dresses, and hired someone to do my makeup and my hair. I think the girls at Saint Sava are the most beautiful in all of Bucharest.


Did your headmaster tell you what to wear?
No. We just consider ourselves to be the elite of Bucharest.

Where did you buy your dress?
It was custom-made—the whole thing took three weeks. The concept was ”something wow.”

What makes it "something wow"?
My attitude.

What's going to happen tonight?
I don't know. I don't think there will be a band, it will just be like any other prom.

VICE: How long did it take to make this dress?
Casandra: One week. I got it from the tailor right as she was sewing these things on. It was inspired by the work of Elie Saab, who is a Lebanese designer.

I see you have laurels in your hair, are you an Olympic athlete or something?
No, these are just for the photos.

VICE: Will you ever wear this dress again?
Georgiana: I actually thought about that and I'm not sure. Maybe at some special occasion.

I saw that some of you came in limos.
Yeah, we formed groups and collected money from everyone. It costs a €100 ($135) an hour, which I thought was pretty decent.

What do you want to study in college?

VICE: Where are you going to study next year?
Diana: I got an offer from the University of Edinburgh but I'm afraid to leave because I would have to be on my own. So I might just study engineering here.

Was your dress custom-made?
Sort of. I got it from a Romanian designer I really like—her name is Elena or Ella. She had already made it, and I was lucky because all she had to do was to tighten it around the waist. I like it because it's long and elegant with a strong note of femininity.


VICE: How did you prepare for the ball?
Maria: Pretty quickly. I found the dress the day before yesterday, at a boutique downtown. It's just the right color.

Are parties at Saint Sava always so elegant?
The ball is a special occasion; it's our last time together.

Where are you going after this?
I am going to Germany to study Japanese and I also want to study music at the conservatory.

What will happen tonight?
I don't know. I've never been to a ball before. We'll probably have fun.

After your parents go home.

VICE: How long did it take you to get ready for tonight?
Adelina: The hardest part was finding the right dress. It took about a month because I had to try it on five times. I didn't really want this style, but the designer insisted.

Will you ever wear this dress?
Yes, at weddings or christenings.

Tell me one thing you won't miss from high school.
Math. It was very unpleasant for me.

Did you come in a limo?
I know that this is the latest fad, but I wanted to be brought by my family so we could take some pictures.

VICE: What will you not miss from high school?
Miruna (left) and Cristina (right: Chemistry, maybe, because of the teacher. He's horrible.

Do the teachers dress as elegantly as you?
Yep, some even more so than us.

What kind of dress did you want?
Cristina: A dress that someone would wear on the red carpet. I wanted something red and backless because I'm blonde. I found this in a mall.

Will you ever wear these dresses again?
Only if we have them shortened.

Who do you want to dance with tonight?
With the history teacher—he's the cutest and most open-minded of them all.