Months of preparation for one of St Andrews’ fashion shows culminated on Saturday night to bring us Sitara Samsara. Sitara, one of the many fashion shows of St Andrews, is unique in its style and execution. Established in 2008, Sitara is situated in an unrivaled space among St Andrews fashion shows, celebrating a vast array of Asian cultures and ensuring that a wide variety of Asian fashions and designers are showcased. Jenna Galapia, the show’s former executive director, states on the Sitara website, “Today, we hold the place as the fashion show where wider Asian culture and diversity take center stage, rather than tacked on as an afterthought.” This year, Sitara 2022 aims to tell a story of diversity and love emerging from a world of chaos.
On Saturday night, I arrived at Lower College Lawn just off Sally’s Quad ready to see what Sitara had in store. With my VIP ticket, I received champagne and a spot right at the front of the catwalk, a coveted position for all attendees. (I had also received a goody tote bag upon pick-up of my ticket that included various things from Sitara’s promotional partners, including a coupon to Combini Co!) Soon, champagne was flowing and all show-goers waited in keen anticipation for the show to begin. The lights dimmed, a quiet settled over the audience, and Sitara’s first dancer entered the stage. Unlike many other fashion shows, Sitara showcases dancing along with fashion. Then, out came the models clad in all-black outfits, joining the dancers. The show had just begun.
Samsara came in four acts: Srishti (creation), K’aos (chaos), Yeonmo (love), and Kenshō (spiritual awakening). Emma Vanpeenen ‘24, one of the Sitara dancers who introduced the first act of the show with her graceful, water-like movement, says, “I love how Sitara includes space in its show to highlight other art forms besides fashion. As a dancer with Sitara, it’s so interesting to see how they incorporate contemporary and hip hop into the show and seamlessly tie different mediums of art into one production.” After this stunning introduction, fashion from Dong Hyun Oh, a South Korean designer whose designs (including those which the models donned) have been featured in Vogue, kicked off the show. This first act showcased colorful, innovative designs from several designers. One of my personal favorites comes from Noé Dresses, a line by St Andrews alumnus Noemie Jouas. A French and Japanese designer, Jouas has also been featured in CATWALK, another St Andrews fashion show, so having seen her designs before, I was excited to see what she had in her arsenal of jaw-dropping dresses for Sitara. The dress pictured below consists of light purple ruffles and dark purple silk and was by far my favorite look of the night. After speaking with members of the Sitara committee, I learned that this was the first time she had showcased the dress on a runway, a monumental moment for the designer. It was certainly a showstopping piece.
Next, the show transitioned into K’aos with a hip-hop style dance. The energy was high as the models graced the runway, wearing elevated streetwear styles from Alice Siyuan Cheng. Her contemporary, gender-neutral black and white collection impressed the crowd, followed by several other collections. After a stunning showing from Denmark’s Julie Bi Christensen, the show entered into a thirty-minute intermission.
Following intermission, Sitara Samsara went into its third act: Yeonmo. In a graceful ballet style, the dancers embodied the theme of Yeonmo by using a long red cloth to wrap around and connect to one another. This red cloth represents the Red String of Fate, a belief from Chinese mythology that two people connected by the red string are destined to be lovers or, in a more modern terminology, soulmates. The dance evolved into a contemporary style with the dancers in all black and models standing on either side, the atmosphere intense, plunging into the second half of the show. This section of the show boasted fashion ranging from lingerie to wedding-esque dresses. The first focus of this act was outerwear from Tutussie, a London-based brand founded by Sissi Xia. The models wore the coats over intricate lingerie, highlighting both pieces. Below, Emma Sarantopoulos ‘22 is modeling one of Tutussie’s camel-colored coats with a leather belt and a black lingerie piece with flower details and straps crossing her body. Sarantopoulos says of Sitara, “I love being a part of Sitara because it’s allowed me to immerse myself in the art, dance, and fashion of multiple Asian cultures. Sitara truly stands for something, and I’m honoured to have taken part in such a welcoming and unique show!”
After a short collection from September Park, the next lingerie showcased was from Blue Pink Peach, a brand of gender-neutral, handmade lingerie. Both male and female models wore delicate pieces with flower appliques, bringing attention to the careful work and precision put into the lingerie. Models wearing Fairy Tong, a dreamy, London-based brand by Yingtong Chung, dresses were then coupled with models wearing Blue Pink Peach lingerie, emphasizing the delicate nature of the pieces. Next came suits from Mousbah Moghrabi and more dresses from Fairy Tong, Noé Dresses, and Tanzilla, a handmade wedding dress and evening gown brand. This section of the show was romantic and graceful, encompassing the serendipity of the Red String of Fate.
Finally, Samsara transitioned into its last act: Kenshō. This act showcased colorful, whimsical outfits from bold patterns from Jade Williams to a structured white dress that attendees had the opportunity to write on before the show. By concluding the show with such fun colors and styles, Sitara had an air of excitement about it, its carefully chosen pieces surely inspiring every attendee. The show concluded with the executive director, Aria Ornes ‘22, thanking everyone for attending and sending the show into its after-party to celebrate its success.
Overall, I found Sitara to be brimming with energy through its unique styles and unconventional themes. Each act’s theme was evident, guiding the audience through the show, providing a roadmap to the fashion. With dancers woven throughout and fashion celebrating Asian brands, Sitara sits in its own sweet spot in St Andrews, unrivaled in its individuality.