'Democratizing' prom: boutique offers free dresses and beauty services to students

School is almost out for summer, and the most glamorous day of the year for students is coming up: prom.

Keimy Saint-Fermin was one of hundreds at the Fairy Godmothers pop-up boutique on Sunday, picking the perfect outfit for that special day -- an outfit that she'll get for free.

"I will have makeup, I will have high heels, and this dress," she told CTV News.

Fairy Godmothers, the organization behind the boutique, aims to make prom more accessible.

"We democratize access to prom. We think prom should not be an activity of exclusion. It should include everyone," said founder Linda Blouin.

Blouin was a high school teacher for 32 years, during which time she became a lead teacher organizing the school's prom.

She says that, while it's an exciting time for many, it can also feel alienating for students and parents faced with high entry expenses -- fancy clothes, tickets, hair and makeup can quickly make for a steep price tag.

For years, she said, she watched students opt to stay home instead. While many schools have options to make prom more accessible for some, it's not always easy for students to approach teachers asking for help. 

She was touched when, after talking about this issue in her classroom, a student handed over her prom dress.

"She said, 'We're starting it, Miss Linda.' I started bawling, crying. And we started it."

Ten years later, teens can now browse racks of dresses, shoes and jewelry, sit for hair and makeup, and walk the runway in full glitz.

The clothing and accessories are donated by a wide range of companies. Some of it is second hand, other stuff is brand new. 

"We thought of providing something really concrete, really tangeable," said Sophie Rozon, marketing director at la Vie en Rose, which offers participants free coupons for undergarments -- "which you need for prom, we're really happy to provide that."  

The Fairy Godmothers also provided prom makeovers for those heading to prom in suits with an early-May event called Journée Boutique pour les garçons. 

While that event was mostly attended by teenage boys, Blouin says none of her events are gender-exlusive.  

As for Sunday's boutique, 300 people signed up for two-day event, and there were about as many volunteers standing by.

Volunteer makeup artist Eugenie Debay, who provided Saint-Fermin with a subtle-yet-timeless gold eye shadow, says prom is a right of passage into adulthood.

"It's really important," she said. "You're finally done with high school, you're becoming an adult, and it's really a beautiful experience."  

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