Lunar Gala Review

A hush falls over the crowd as the lights dim, and a countdown on the big screen begins. The annual Lunar Gala will begin in just five minutes. After the producers kick off the show, the models, wearing the clothes from the first design, strut onto the runway. This year’s Lunar Gala featured 12 different sets, all following a theme that sets out to capture the uncapturable, the fleeting — Morii. With “Morii” in mind, the designers sought to showcase their interpretations of that which cannot be captured and invite the audience to partake in bringing their memories and aspirations to life. The avant garde designs draw the viewer’s eye and elicit feelings of awe, admiration, and perhaps even confusion. However, whatever you may have thought of the outfits, you cannot deny the artistic thought and effort behind each item of clothing.

While I am not a fashion connoisseur, I can appreciate the artistic thought behind many of the designs. One of my personal favorites was the Rewind line, which featured colorful outfits made entirely of yarn. The peculiar choice in material represented designer Michelle Yue’s memories of a warm, fuzzy childhood spent with her grandmother. In a figurative and literal sense, Yue hopes to “recreate the comfort and warmth of these memories” using yarn, as stated in the Lunar Gala pamphlet. Other than the heartwarming thought behind this set out outfits, I have to applaud the creativity and skill required to make such intricate designs out of a basic and simple medium.

Always a sucker for symbolism, another one of my favorite lines was La Piñata. With “street style” designs in dominant colors of green, white, and red (and an outfit that was simply the actual flag of Mexico), it was clear designer Oscar Monarrez was paying homage to Mexico and its traditions and cultures. A present motif was, of course, a piñata, in the form of tiny purses carried by all models. The cohesiveness of the outfits, the restricted color palette, and the simplicity of the line in general, was the designer’s way of “embodying the culture which he grew up around ... and its transition into what he sees it as now.”

The Wei Lai line also appeals to me for a similar reason. The thought behind the line was to “encapsulate what is yet to come and what is yet to be created,” applied to the lens of East Asian-ness in a Western society. The outfits featured were whimsical and elegant, adhering to a strict color scheme of black and white. Some pieces featured aspects of traditional East Asian dress, a tribute to Asian culture in a Eurocentric fashion industry. The models looked almost intimidating in the outfits, which I suppose accomplished designers Sihan Wu, April Wu, and Sarah Kwok’s goals of “disrupting the spaces we exist in”, inviting the audience to “question western hegemony” for the sake of creating a society which does not favor or single out any identity, in the fashion realm and outside of it, too.

Lastly, the Limbic line lends its livery to a more scientific interpretation of this year’s theme Morii. The designer Madi Davis employed the use of various fabric mediums to create allusions to the human limbic system, which controls the creation of memories and emotional responses. It was interesting to see this incredibly scientific idea translated to a visual, wearable medium. Naturally, this neural system is incredibly intricate and complex, and the outfits in the Limbic line do this complexity justice, with textured garments, ruffles, and fleshy colors. I recall watching the models walk in the outfits, and thinking, “it feels like I’m at the science museum.” So, I suppose designer Davis expressed her artistic vision quite well!

While I only mentioned a few of the twelve lines featured in this year’s Lunar Gala, all sets were interesting and fresh. The most inspiring part is that all designers are current Carnegie Mellon students (and a couple alumni)! And, of course, I cannot neglect to mention all the off-stage work that goes into such a huge, professional event such as this one; production, photography, cinematography, and performance were all also student-led. It’s a shame all this work culminates in only a one-night showcase, but don’t worry, if you missed it this year, Lunar Gala will be back next year, providing Pittsburgh with new, enthralling designs.