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Student designers dazzle their peers at Lunar Gala

A student-designed cardigan and skirt combo. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A student-designed cardigan and skirt combo. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A dress from the line "Peaches." (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A dress from the line "Peaches." (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A pair poses at the end of the runway. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A pair poses at the end of the runway. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A model poses in a silk kimono-inspired garment.  (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff) A model poses in a silk kimono-inspired garment. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Photo Staff)

Watch highlights from Lunar Gala featuring student and professional designs, dancing, and music. Lunar Gala is a celebration of the Chinese New Year.
Video courtesy of cmuTV.org.

Student designers dazzle their peers at Lunar Gala:
The campus celebrated the Chinese New Year with a student-run fashion show

There is, in fact, no fashion design major here at Carnegie Mellon, but if you were around Wiegand Gym this Saturday you might have thought otherwise.

Saturday marked the 13th annual Lunar Gala, a celebration of the Chinese New Year. Students gathered to watch a full-blown runway show featuring student models flaunting wearable student designs. The show was also accompanied by three dances and a musical interlude.

The theme chosen to celebrate the Year of the Tiger was “Tension.” Three traditional Chinese dances, performed by girls from the Oriental Star Dance School, kicked off the show. Act One consisted of eight student-designed lines, two professional boutique lines, a performance by the Dancers’ Symposium Company, and an original song performed by The Wrong Airport. Act Two also started with a dance, performed by Carnegie Mellon students.

Following the dance were seven student-designed lines, four professional boutique lines, and a second dance. Wiegand Gym was transformed into a fashion venue with the help of a long runway and black curtains to create a backdrop for the work. Lanterns, which changed colors throughout the show, added to the ambience and brought a touch of Chinese culture to the setting.

In the past, Lunar Gala has received criticism concerning the content of the show. This year’s show, however, was less risqué and more diverse in content. Although the only obvious links to Chinese culture were the initial dances, decorative lanterns, and dumplings that were served during intermission, the quality of the showcased work was impressive. The lines featured women’s and men’s clothing; there were casual pieces such as black pants and screen-print tees and formal pieces such as evening gowns. Many of the outfits could be worn in everyday life, while other conceptual couture pieces made you wonder how long it would be until the model fell down. This year’s show even featured a jewelry line, adding even more variety to the content.

The inspiration for the designs also brought diversity to the show. Music videos, military uniforms, and the Oakland streets during the G-20 had an influence on first-year design major Chris Ioffreda’s line, “Black.” Bernard James’ self-titled line’s vision came from other sources. “My line was inspired by European royalty,” he said. “I’m from New York City, so I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and did some research on French royalty. I was inspired by the artists Pierre-Paul Prud’hon and the way he draped and colored the subject’s clothing in his paintings.”

The logistics of the show were also impressive. Despite a few false starts, the opening was much improved over last year’s 40-minute delay, and there were no notable sound system problems. The crowded audience was assured a good view thanks to cmuTV and two large projectors showing the models walking the runway. Transitions between acts ran seamlessly. As James explained, “It was all very hectic but it all came together well. After a couple dress rehearsals the designers had all learned to work together — to mesh.” Although the show ran long, it focused largely on student designs.

Lunar Gala brings many parts of the campus community together in celebration of the new year and student work. By virtue of the long lists of necessary thank yous, the collaboration that made the event possible was evident. “It was hectic but it was a lot of fun,” said Marchelle Ecung, a sophomore business administration major and model for the show. “It’s a different experience than the norm here at CMU.” In a school that is often thought of for its technical expertise, Lunar Gala’s show of fashion and culture was a refreshing reminder of how diverse Carnegie Mellon’s campus really is.