As high school students start prepping for ball season, Danielle Heyns speaks to three head girls about the excitement of going to the ball, what they're wearing, and what's popular in ballwear this season.
Zoe Davies, from Fairfield College, has found just the dress. It's one of a kind: a tea-length, black tulle beauty she's sure no one else will turn up in.
And she'll be able to wear it again.
This is important, because she is paying for it by herself, with money saved from her part-time job at Burger Fuel.
It's setting her back $400, and then there's hair, makeup, shoes and accessories: another $200.
"It's very expensive!" she squeals. "But I'm so excited. All my friends are.
"I thought about getting my hair and makeup done, but I wanted to be able to keep things so I could use them again, so I'm buying makeup and a curler and doing my own."
She wants big Hollywood curls, a gold eye and a nude lip. Thank goodness for YouTube makeup tutorials.
She's on the school ball committee, so she's been thinking about ball season since the beginning of the year, and she can't wait.
They've chosen Love Boat as a theme, with classic nautical colours, all red, white and blue (also the favourite colours in ball dresses this year), pallet backdrops, lengths of rope and just maybe a boat with helium balloons.
Last year, she attended the ball with a group of friends, but for her high school farewell, she wants to take a date.
And she's already asked him.
"It's either way these days - girls are just as likely to ask boys."
She's just seen rough-cut imitation diamond earrings on Etsy which she would love to wear with her dress. "And my shoes may or may not have polka dots on them."
Jessica Chanwai, from St Paul's Collegiate School, has her heart set on a plain black dress. "I'm quite boring, and black is classy," she says.
But her school ball isn't until the end of term three, so she's got plenty of time to find it. In the meantime, she gets to try different hair and makeup styles when attending other school balls. Hamilton's head students are invited to other school balls and for those, Jessica borrows dresses from friends.
Her own ball is special, though - "a pivotal part of being a teenager" - so she's hoping to have a dress made. She looks to the red carpet for inspiration. "I tend to see aspects of dresses I like, so it would be nice to have those made into one dress."
An award-winning violinist, Jessica knows her dress will be worn again at music competitions. She's already worn last year's ball dress a few times.
It's standard for girls at St Paul's to have their hair and makeup done professionally on the big day, and Jessica is no exception. She reckons girls spend about $500 to $1000 for a dress and another $150 for hair and makeup. "By the time you buy your ticket, it adds up.
"For girls, it's one of the most talked about events, so you might as well go all out. I think it's because every girl is brought up on a fairly tale, and usually it's Cinderella, and she went to the ball and met Prince Charming."
By the sounds of it, white will be a popular colour choice at Hillcrest High School's ball in August this year, but Leilani Baker thinks that might be a bit bridal for her. She likes colour. Something pink or peach would look good with her complexion, she thinks. She loves the idea of long lace sleeves with a low back, as do many of her friends.
If it's not too way out, she'd like to wear it again to her brother's wedding. But first things first. She needs to find the perfect dress, and hopes to find it online, on a website like voguepromdresses.com, where you can often get one on special.
Then, afterwards, she might sell it on Trade Me - lots of the girls do.
Her parents will probably help with a few things, but she hopes to pay for her dress herself - she's got a part-time job at Montana Catering - and doesn't want to pay more than $200. She's on the lookout for something long. Year 12 girls tend to wear short dresses to the ball (both year 12s and 13s are allowed to go), then something longer for their final year, but even last year, Leilani went long. It's just so elegant.
For her hair, she'd like a low bun and maybe some floral accessories. Most of the girls are going for low-key accessories this year. She hasn't got a clue about her date yet - most of her guy friends have girlfriends - but that will sort itself out.
She's just looking forward to having fun with her friends.
"For year 13s, it's the big event of the year, a time to glam up. All the girls want to be the best dressed.
"Yes, there's a prize like that - all the schools do it. There's a big hype about the ball."
Jessica Chanwai, head girl of St Paul's Collegiate, and Leilani Baker, head girl of Hillcrest High School, model dresses from Ruby in Casabella Lane. Their hair and makeup were done by Devereux & Villiger, also in Casabella Lane
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