Comet Gala: A night among the stars

Rory Moore | Mercury Staff

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All photos by Rory Moore | Mercury Staff

It’s Friday, and old-timey swing music plays from the speakers as the ATC building resembles a prom night, bustling with students dressed in gowns and suits. The AIGA club hosted its third annual Comet Gala, encouraging students to dress to the nines, and Comets did not disappoint.  

The Comet Gala’s theme this year was “A Night Among the Stars,” held April 12 at 7 p.m. in the ATC building. The first floor of the building held photobooths, the performers’ stage and a red carpet to encourage Comets to dress elegantly in an old Hollywood style. The second floor was strictly home to all vendors and student organizations participating in the gala, like KittynCap Labs, Baking for a Cause, Arters and Crafters and many more. The theme “A Night Among the Stars” showed Comets to be the real stars of the event with their unique sense of fashion.  

Event coordinator and ATEC senior Rez Acosta said AIGA brainstormed different ideas for the theme of the event. The name took advantage of the phrase ‘met gala’ — embedded inside the title Comet Gala — encouraging Comets to discover the most glamorous version of themselves. 

“I think that we should just take it and run with it and encourage people to treat it like the Met Gala if they so choose,” Acosta said. “If you want to come in a crazy dress that you hand made, I happily implore you to do so.” 

Trisha Agrawal, a computer science junior at UT Austin, accompanied her boyfriend, Gaurav Kulkarni, an electrical engineering senior, wearing a floor-length navy dress and a cream-colored faux fur bolero. Her dress had a uniform pattern of grey and white dots, which twinkled every time they caught light. Agrawal said that her dress was from two years ago at Kulkarni’s prom. She said she was happy to be able to wear it again instead of letting it sit in her closet for an indefinite amount of time.  

“Outside of high school prom, I really would’ve never gotten the chance to dress up like this again,” Agrawal said.  

Keon Ohimai, a global business junior, wore a gold and green suit to match the golden stars decorating the first floor of the ATC building. Like Agrawal, Ohimai’s suit was also the outfit they wore to prom. They said the theme of the Comet Gala was a nice way for Comets who are more reserved to dress in a glamourous way and have fun.  

“I love seeing people on campus dressed up because you don’t really see people here too often express themselves creatively outwards,” Ohimai said.  

Katelynn Tran, a 2023 alum with a bachelor’s in biochemistry, wore a purple button down with a grey vest, tie and black pants to fit with the theme of “A Night Among the Stars.” Her outfit was business-themed and formal; Tran said she didn’t want to just wear all black to the event, so she opted for a purple button that reminded her of the night sky. While manning her booth, KittnCap Labs, in the artist alley, she said she appreciated attendees’ range of outfit styles, from gothic, to artsy, to casual. 

“I think I saw someone with a skull mask, and there’s definitely some florals going around and solid pieces as well, which are a timeless classic, and you have people who just came from class,” Tran said. “Everyone has their own distinct sense of style.” 

Although most attendees opted for a prom-style outfit in theme with the gala, Gail Hernandez, a computer science senior, wore a black Lolita skirt, black tights, a black shirt, black platform shoes and silver necklaces and jewelry to finish off a Gothic look. She said she didn’t have anything that would match the event’s aesthetic of old Hollywood glamour, but that didn’t stop her from dressing up in her own way. 

“I’ve always been into frillier clothes and a darker aesthetic,” Hernandez said. 

As part of the Comet Gala’s itinerary, the UTD Fashion Club performed a runway show focused on the glamourous retro Hollywood aspect of the theme. The Fashion Club gave “A Night Among the Stars” a modern twist to it by using various silhouettes and types of fabric. Lauren Mangu, a physics junior and president of the Fashion Club, said she hopes to leave attendees in awe of their fashion show and to inspire them to become more expressive in their fashion. 

“I think fashion is a huge way to have inclusivity when it comes to freedom of expression, with wearing whatever you want, how it makes you feel, regardless of what societal standards hold.” Mangu said.  

AIGA’s third annual Comet Gala included performances by Dallas Musical Outreach, Kung Fu Club, Fashion Club, Strings Attached and Novis Acapella. Photobooths were provided by MUSE and Indigo Magazine. Comet Gala vendors included KittnCap Labs, Natty Nat, Baking for a Cause, Stationary Charms, and Arter’s and Crafters, selling prints, stickers, keychains and more. Acosta said coordinating a huge event like this is stressful, but the result is worth it.  

“Comet Gala is really an opportunity for students to dress up and have fun,” Acosta said. “I want to always make sure that that is the forefront of Comet Gala. It’s about the people that come here and the enjoyment that they find.” 


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