Sitara* comes late in the season of fashion shows. After Catwalk, FS, and DONT WALK, one would assume that most St Andrews students would reach a saturation point, and feel that they’d ticked the fashion boxes and seen it all before. In many ways this would be a fair assessment. Lower College Lawn isn’t a new venue, and watching beautiful people wearing edgy clothes isn’t a new pass-time. Sitara*, however, knows its niche.
The Mahal themed show was genuinely fascinating. I don’t know if this was the common opinion, but as someone who knows very little about high fashion, I found some of the other shows a little alienating. Like with modern art, I could tell that there was something to be admired in the outfits that clad the models of FS and DONT WALK, but felt I lacked the context to be able to appreciate them in a meaningful way.
It was a triumph for Sitara* then, that the clothing, a mixture from Indian designers, graduate fashion collections and small independent labels, was accessible enough in style to hold the attention of the ignorant with bright colours and bold shapes. Although perhaps this was also a consequence of the models themselves. One attendee noted that the organisers had seemed to cast the models according to sex appeal, rather than high fashion looks, again making the show more accessible.
It seemed a little strange that the committee did not make more tickets available for purchase, however. The marquee gradually filled up as the show began, but despite this, there seemed a dearth of people at one end of the tent. Obviously attendees aren’t going to evenly disperse themselves when the entertainment is down one end of the marquee, but it just seemed that there was room for more people, despite the tickets for the show selling out. That being said, the crowd around the stage did stand about four people deep all the way round, so perhaps it was only in the breaks from the show that the empty room was noticeable.
The interval was actually one of the more problematic aspects of the show all round. I’m really not a fan of the traditional auction as entertainment, with all the grim decadence that accompanies it, but to have it replaced by nothing left a hole in the night. I was just left wondering whether the energetic dancers that punctuated the show might have been used in the interval. As a result of this, however, the break did not drag on for the lengths that those of other fashion usually do, something that often stagnates the momentum the show works to generate. So that, I suppose, was good.
The music, too, was a curious blend of success and failure. DJ Staley Sharples, providing a reliably solid, atmospheric soundtrack, was hampered by the relative quietness of the speakers. As much as it was nice to be able to converse with people during the show, it definitely detracted from the overall effect that the extravagant fashion ought to have produced. Even as the show turned into the after party, the music remained at a curiously low volume, possibly explaining the exodus to the Union. Those that had paid £10 to attend the Sitara* after party really did get the short end of the stick there, although, volume of music aside, the blame for that can’t be placed at the committee’s door.
Altogether, the night was vibrant and fun. This might be a particularly subjective comment, but an issue that comes up with a lot of St Andrews events is that the attendees seem to be there to be seen and photographed. There’s no specific event that’s a particular offender for this, but it does change an atmosphere when you become aware that there’s a certain air of self-consciousness about everyone present. Sitara* was mercifully free of this, which in itself was an achievement. Guests appeared to be in attendance because they were genuinely interested in the show and the cultural experience it offered, reflecting well on the reputation the show has cultivated in the last few years.
This isn’t to say there weren’t the same old problems with separating the VIPs from the Muggles, this time with a particularly noticeable and crude metal barrier. I understand that tiered ticketing has its benefits for events, but in this particular instance, due to the layout of Lower College Lawn’s marquee, it just seemed a more glaring division. It’s inevitable, I suppose, but one would imagine that there might be a way for it to be more tastefully done.
Overall, however, Sitara* absolutely managed to distinguish itself from the other shows of its ilk, providing a memorable night with an exceptionally well executed theme.