Students cheered as Mofope Olarinmoye ’16 strutted across the stage in Kemper Auditorium wearing a modern Nigerian pantsuit that featured colorful, patterned fabric and a bright blue bodice.
Tailored in Nigeria for Olarinmoye, this was just one of the many outfits modeled in iFashion, part of last Saturday’s International Festival (iFest).
Hosted by Rhaime Kim ’15 and Marcello Rossi ’16, board members of International Club, the fashion show featured 18 students representing 12 different countries, including Germany, Japan, Thailand and Nigeria. Several students also showcased cultural performances in a talent show that preceded the fashion show.
Mihika Sridhar ’16 performed Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form that originated in Southern India. Her dance piece was entitled “Durga” and praised Durga, one of the fiercest and most powerful Hindu goddesses. Dressed in a red and gold Indian dress, which is specifically worn during Bharatanatyam dances, with coordinating gold jewelry, Sridhar combined intricate arm movements, subtle hand gestures and strong, articulate taps of her feet to match the beat of the song.
“I started dancing when I was five, so it’s been a little over 11 years since I started. [Dancing] is a huge part of my life, and I love showcasing the more cultural part of my identity at Andover whenever I can. Performing at iFest was a great way to share some of what I love to do with other students,” said Sridhar.
Joshua Lee ’17 and Max Huang ’17 gave an emotional performance of “Trying to Forget,” a Korean song by Baek Ji Young. The slow ballad described leftover feelings of love after a breakup.
After the talent show, students transitioned into a fashion show in which they showed off outfits from their respective cultures. Students walked up to the stage one at a time, described the cultural significance of their outfits and shared fun facts about their country.
“Fashion and clothing are defining features of a culture, because they indicate a lot about a country, including the climate, the views of the people and the values of the community,” said Rossi.
Representing Germany in the fashion show, Hannah Hagemeyer ’15 wore a dirndl, a dress that features a solid-colored corset, white puff-sleeves and a knee-length, brightly colored skirt.
“Mostly women in the south of Germany, in Bavaria, wear these dresses. They wear their dirndls mostly at the Oktoberfest in Munich. It originated as the garb of the working peasantry in the 18th century,” said Hagemeyer.
Most students chose to showcase traditional attire worn for special occasions like weddings and ceremonies. Yifei Wu ’17, representing China, flaunted a Qipao, a fitted ankle-length mint green dress, complete with lilac embroidered flowers and detailed collar designs.
“[Qipaos are] usually made out of silk and cotton. Because [Qipaos are] not practical and often expensive, they are considered symbols of status and only worn at social events,” said Wu. “I wanted to participate [in iFashion], because I wanted to contribute by representing China. In addition, I came from an international school, where I have been doing this since fifth grade.”
As well as showcasing beautiful designs and patterns, iFashion gave students a chance to share their cultures with the rest of Andover.
“Something I enjoyed was just getting everyone to say a cool thing, like their greeting and a cool thing about their country. This year we made it so that it wasn’t just a fashion show for clothing — people shared a little about the country they’re representing. We have a lot of diversity and this is intentional diversity, but we actually don’t make as much use of it as we can. I think iFest is a way of showcasing all the different cultures that we have,” said Kim.
As an addition to the show, Kaya Hurteau, the young daughter of Lilia Cai-Hurteau, Instructor in Chinese, paraded through the show as a traditional Chinese princess. She wore a red and pink dress with an extravagant headdress adorned with red tassels.
“The main purpose of iFashion is to exhibit how international [Andover’s] community is,” said Rossi. “Being in America, it is hard to stay connected to one’s culture. iFashion is a way to display one’s international background in the midst of the American culture.”