Share This Page

Carnegie Mellon students of many disciplines invent, build Lunar Gala's fashion creations

| Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Ruhani Mumick, 18, of Oakland, wears a beaded mask by student fashion line Sanctum during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: STRAIN at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Aliya Zhdanov, 20, of Oakland, holds still as student designer Michelle Li, 18, of Oakland, adjusts a piece in her line Decay during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Yutong Han, right, 19, of Oakland, waits to walk in rehearsal.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Zhuoyang Li walks during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Eric Chow, 20, of Oakland, models a headpiece from Exuviae during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. The student line uses plastic strips to reinterpret exoskeletons in this year's show.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Weikun Liang, 21, of Oakland, holds still as her outfit is fastened for rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. The structural gold sleeve Liang wears is from student fashion line Dauntless.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Producer Jibby Ayo-Ani, 21, of Oakland, gives direction during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
From left, student designer Yiru Yao, 21, fastens the clothes of Neha Kodi, 21, of Oakland, as she laughs with fellow student models Alexia Mate, 19, all of Oakland, and Rebecca Fortner, 21, of Squirrel Hill, as they get ready for rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. The models wear the structural designs of student fashion line Dauntless.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Neha Kodi, 21, of Oakland, holds still as her outfit is fastened for rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. The structural gold sleeve Kodi wears is from student fashion line Dauntless.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Producer Jibby Ayo-Ani, 21, of Oakland, works during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Carol Deng, 19, of Oakland, models pieces from the student designed line Decay during rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Models take a break at rehearsal for Carnegie Mellon University's Lunar Gala 2016: Strain at the Oakland campus on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. The annual fashion event will take place on Saturday evening, Feb. 13th, 2016, featuring student designers, models, dancers and artists for the 20th year.

If you can design a building, why not design fashion?

“There are a lot of similarities to designing a garment and architecture, including the structure of the clothing,” says Noopur Suckhlecha, a fourth-year Carnegie Mellon University student.

It might seem like an odd link, but the idea of taking classroom concepts in one field and applying them to another — fashion, specifically — is the whole point of CMU's Lunar Gala, an annual student-run fashion show — set for 8 p.m. Feb. 13 on the Oakland campus.

Every February, student designers, models, dancers, videographers and motion designers bring their skills together. Every aspect of the show is envisioned and implemented by students.

“Every student is self-motivated at Carnegie Mellon, whether they are in the classroom or participating in an event like Lunar Gala,” says Suckhlecha, who is from India. “We can always use some things that we learn academically to everyday life. It's about applying that knowledge in a different and unique way.”

Suckhlecha, along with fellow architecture classmates Jenny Wong of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Marnfah Kanjanavanit of Thailand, created the fashion line Exuviae.

Exuviae are the exoskeleton remnants of certain animals after a skin-shedding process. In Latin, the term means “that which is stripped from a body.” The fashion line attempts to redefine this natural phenomenon.

Wong says fashion and architecture both require understanding structure and an attention to detail.

But learning to sew wasn't something the three of them had encountered in the classroom. “We had no sewing experience, so we had to learn it,” Wong says. “There are no patterns. You have to think about the garment and how to fit it to the model who will be wearing it. You have to consider how the model will be able to walk the runway wearing the garment.”

The trio used plastic to create their looks. Models will wear blue or black underneath to showcase the details.

Theirs will be one of 16 collections unveiled at the show, whose theme this year is “strain.”

As the event turns 20, organizers say they are pleased with how it has grown into the fully immersive experience it is today.

“And while we are fortunate to be able to draw on the talented students in the college of fine arts and, particularly, the school of design, we have strong representation from the entire undergraduate population,” says Joanna Dickert, Lunar Gala adviser and assistant director of undergraduate research and national fellowships at CMU.

“Our designers and models are equally diverse. They are artists, engineers, scientists and writers.”

The Lunar Gala personifies the best of CMU, she says, because there are so many students from different disciplines involved. Regardless of whether the student is designing a garment, assisting with technical design, managing the budget or navigating the branding and marketing, there are connections with their coursework, Dickert says.

“For many students, it is an opportunity to use their discipline-specific knowledge to contribute to a robust campus tradition,” she says. “They are not only applying technical expertise but practicing invaluable soft skills related to communication, teamwork and leadership. These are important learning gains that students can then speak to when they are interviewing for jobs or applying to graduate schools.”

Knowing engineering helped Katherine Wong, a senior electrical and computer engineering major from central New Jersey. She teamed with Yiru Yao of China, also a senior electrical and computer engineering major, and Eunice Oh of North New Jersey, a junior chemistry major.

Their fashion line, Dauntless, incorporates elements that highlight the elegance of a woman and the fierce nature of a warrior. Delicate floral accents with the harshness of structured armor create a conflicting, but synergetic, mix of femininity and toughness.

“I really like being creative,” says Katherine Wong, who aspires to work as a Disney engineer. “Creating this line was a lot of work, but we are used to working hard at Carnegie Mellon. We knew it was going to be hard, but the hardest part was actually making the garments.”

Materials Katherine Wong and her team used consisted of foam-sprayed pleather, silk and jersey. They created gold-colored wings.

Designer candidates submit a portfolio and are interviewed by the gala's student board. Those selected then show a prototype garment. They pay for all their supplies.

Myles Blodnick, a senior artificial intelligence major from Long Island who plans to continue at CMU studying robotics, says the entire event is a creative process.

“You learn so many things in this design process of the fashion world,” Blodnick says. “These skills can be a benefit and are great for the portfolio. As a model, you learn about confidence. You have to walk the runway based on what a garment stands for.”

Blodnick will wear a pair of Japanese samurai pants for the collection called Fukkatsu, designed by communication design student Sharon Yu and art student Cindy Hsu, both sophomores from Taiwan. Fukkatsu means revival in Japanese. They've incorporated traditional Japanese elements into modern-inspired pieces.

One of the gala's producers, Miriam Buchwald says this experience is teaching her how to manage people.

“Being part of this show, no matter in what capacity, requires you to have an open mindset,” says the northern New Jersey resident and senior communication design student. “There is really no right or wrong. The designs show the ideas of the designers. The best part is seeing their creativity showcased on the runway. They come up with some amazing designs.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7889 or jharrop@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.