Lunar Gala

Shiny patent leather, soft sheer white fabric, and structural breakdowns of traditional silhouettes were all the rage at this year’s Lunar Gala. Contrast and tension in the designs brought forth an exploration of shapes and textures, as the harsh runway lights reflected off of metallic pants and glittering panels of fabric. This tension was borne out of an examination of this year’s theme: Anomie.

Fashion’s industrial side was notable throughout the show, and there was a decidedly structural and monochromatic feel to each collection. Fierce reds, muted blues, and tennis-ball yellows popped against clean blacks and stark whites, but the focus was more on unique constructions of silhouettes and contrasts of materials. This year’s Lunar Gala featured 20 collections, including a line that showcased alumni designs, and another that featured a local Pittsburgh designer. With over 120 people involved, the show was a testament to the stunning creativity and truly admirable work ethic of Carnegie Mellon’s student body.

The show opened with a stunning dance routine, performed by members of Carnegie Mellon’s own Soulstylz, LG Dance, and Infra Dance. There were three total performances throughout Lunar Gala, each decidedly lyrical, but with the high energy and edginess of a hip hop routine. Dramatic and sharp, the performers themselves embodied the “incongruence of realities,” breaking their bodies into angular shapes to transition into smoother, more ballet-based movements.

The first collection, Lucid, designed by Chaeyun Lee, Nicole Lee-Park, and Somin Shim, emphasized the contrast between the opaque and the translucent. Much of the collection utilized paneling of the different fabrics to subtly conceal the model’s bodies and reveal new silhouettes. The laser-sharp focus on composition encouraged the viewer to pay closer attention to the shapes and textures of the fabric. One of my favorite collections, Lucid was an incredibly strong opener that jumped enthusiastically into the show’s theme.

Lautus, designed by Yoon Young Kim, featured an absolutely stunning dress made out of belt buckles and white chiffon-like material. This collection embraced the softer looks of dresses and flowing fabrics with the utility of thick belts and straps, creating a combination of clothing that deconstructs traditional styles. The tighter white bodies of the clothes were broken up by dark panels of glittery blue fabric, adding another interestingly angular component to the playful line.

Nautico was a journey into the sea, combining the traditional styles of nautical clothing with the shapes of the sea itself. Designed by David Perry, the line featured impressive ropework and knit detailing that resulted in an incredibly cohesive design. One of the most memorable pieces of Nautico was a playful and more abstract take on the diving suit, as pale red stripes circled a model’s head to resemble a helmet.

Tennis never looked so good with Charlotte Deiss’s Grip. Dramatic and powerful, the line combined tennis-related materials (like mesh, a net, and the blocked outlines of the court itself) with feminine power wear. Muted blues and neon yellows popped against the dark blacks of sporty skirts and low-cut power-suits, bringing the intense energy and confidence of a tennis player onto the runway.

Straps of denim fabric swayed beautifully around models’ legs in Xiaoying Meng’s Re:born. Featuring discarded fabrics from local designers, the collection is a comment on the excessive waste generated by the fashion industry. Weaving together bits and pieces from different fabrics and pieces of clothing with raw hems, models wore asymmetric outfits that highlighted the individuality of each piece.

Lily Cunicelli and Laura Riviere teamed up to design Fete. The line was sophisticated and elegant, with beautiful flowing sheer dresses and tiny pearl detailing on long sleeves. Fete heavily utilized silk, chiffon, and ruffles to construct a dinner-party of 8 different styles, from a more ready-to-wear party dress decorated with copper wiring to a more structured black square top. While the many styles resulted in an only mildly cohesive line, they were meant to celebrate and bring to light the contributions of eight groundbreaking women in art history. An interesting concept and impressive execution – I only wished I knew who those eight women were.

Eden was an especially impressive line, examining the degradation of the earth through the use of paper-like textiles and dyes. Use of color was an especially strong point in this collection, especially when it came to expression of theme: the coral-like dresses ombréd from muted reds and blues to a white, signaling the loss of life in the ocean’s coral reefs; their powerful feathered coat blended from an immaculate white to shiny black, indicative of oil spills. Designed by Vincent DeRienzo, Leah Kendrick, and Tyng Peck, Eden was raw, refreshingly experimental, and really strong in its execution.

Synergy:Coexist heavily featured great swaths of fabric draped over more skeletal frames made of a flexible wood-like material. Described as an exploration of “the rigidity and flexibility of organic relationships and human nature,” the collection meshed intricate string work with fixed frames and structures to create a style that I can only describe as “Abstract Roman.” Synergy:Coexist was designed by Min Young Jeong and Christine Kim.

Found was another one of my favorite collections. Utilizing found materials around campus – like garbage bags, Red Bull cans, and newspaper – Found discovered ways to reuse old materials “to redefine and expand the definitions of object value and beauty past their traditional means.” Designed by Ashley Burbano and Jessa Westheimer, the collection was innovative in drawing attention to our community’s own habits in connection to sustainability.

Opaque dives into the experiences of life with mental illness, seeking to encourage a conversation that connects the experience of shielding one’s emotions with the use of clothing as protection from the outside world. Handling a balance between protection from one’s own thoughts and protection from the harsh elements of the world, the collection heavily featured utility pieces like belts and straps alongside softer panels of fabric. The collection was designed by Alice Fang, Sophia Kim, and Jaclyn Saik.

Designed by Mariana Alberola Rezza, Zain Islam-Hashmi, and Stephanie Smid, Alluminare was a showstopping end to Part One of Lunar Gala. Glow-in-the-dark resin was integrated into each piece, creating intricate geometric patterns on coats and halos of orange glowing around a model’s head. The true strength in the duality of this collection was the clothing itself – even without the fun glow-in-the-dark component, each piece was dynamic and strong enough to stand on their own.

“You’ve never seen the Kardashians quite like this.” Combining the Fashion Nova-like energy of Kardashian fashion with the ironic twist of popular memes (“Kim, there’s people that are dying!” was embroidered on the back of a jacket), Broqué was a playful collection in both its style and humor. It was one of the few collections that showcased bright and colorful pieces, with blue silk outfits with Obama’s portrait, wire crowns, and long yellow coats. Designed by Katie Boyle and Arden Wolf, Broqué was a fun comment on internet celebrity fashion trends.

Beaux was designed by Daniela Delgado and Rishi Karthikeyan, featuring a heavy focus on femininity and corsets. The collection aimed to subvert the “traditional function of corsets by allowing them to conform and accentuate the natural body rather than retrain it.” With dresses that were half-corset frame and half-full-length dress, the collection put forth an interesting concept surrounding the strength and power in female clothing.

Shibui was an expert use of different textiles and silhouettes, combining thicker knit fabric with dynamic shifting reds. The clothing was made up of simple, yet beautiful shapes, presenting a clean look with fine detailing that introduced complexity into the simplicity of the looks. Ellen Zhu’s designs were a fantastic exploration into a contrast between different texture detailing in clothing.

Phantasus, designed by Clara Zhao, combined structural form-making and contrasting materials to create intricate designs. The sculpture-like draping of tulle was beautiful and regal, emphasizing the movement and shape of the body. It was dream-like and poetic, and the collection’s construction was stunning.

Next was a line that featured a unique set of pieces designed and constructed by past Lunar Gala alumni. With ready-to-wear pieces like royal blue blazers to more bold rainbow skirts, the Alumni Line was a nice celebration of the earlier years of Lunar Gala that encouraged current students to “explore all the opportunities in the world with passion.”

Dedicated to reforming the traditional feminine power-suit, Unpoetic Beauty expertly utilized dynamic color blocking and peplum-like silhouettes. Designer Christianna Murray took inspiration from Japanese Samurai armor and Victorian-era clothing to create a blend of power, confidence, and authority. One particularly cool moment from this collection was the pairing of two models with similar color schemes and garments. Decked out in muted royal blue and purple, the pair looked stunning as they walked down the runway.

Lachesism was another one of my favorite lines. Bold in its use of color and its attitude, the street-fashion collection truly showcased the personality of the designer and the models. Designer Rebecca Kim “encompassed the desire to shed all constancy,” with neon yellow cropped puffer jackets and sporty mesh-like two pieces, breaking against the traditional shapes of such clothing. Meant to also explore disaster, the accompanying sound design was disruptive and eclectic – which, in all honesty took me out of the experience, but I appreciated the integration of the rest of the production environment with the clothing.

SLOG was another collection that cleverly incorporated sound design into its experience, weaving in alarms and industrial alerts to reflect the worker-inspired pieces on the runway. “SLOG poses the worker as a figure of beauty,” and beautiful it was! The futuristic dissections of industrial work attire were inspired, finding beauty in the functional. It was an effective collection, and one of the most cohesive of the night. Designed by Mimi Jiao and Nina Yoo, SLOG was a captivating and professional runway experience.

Yang Gao, D.K. Wang, and Veronica Wang’s line Urban Nomads closed Lunar Gala. Taking harsh industrial materials like denim, wood, and plastic to reflect ancient tribe-like nomadic clothing, the collection was a rich exploration of transformation through one’s surroundings. Powerful shapes created out of a symmetry of looping circles of wood and straps of fabric, creating a strong line that was simultaneously modern and explorative.

“Lunar Gala 2019: ANOMIE embraces an uncertain future on the horizon and the resilience of communities who are defining it.” And embrace it, it does. This year’s show was a true celebration of the student body, and everyone who contributed to it should be insanely proud. Congrats on a fantastic show!