INTERVIEW: SITARA*’s Creative Director

The Informer spoke to Paula Akyol, Creative Director of this year’s Sitara, ahead of tomorrow’s show about the event, the committee and their dedication to charity.

From your beginnings as an off-shoot subcommittee of the Sanskriti society in 2009 to today, where your committee alone boasts 33 members: just how proud are the Sitara family of all you have accomplished?

As a committee, and along with the models and dancers involved with Sitara, we are all delighted with the progress Sitara has made over the past ten years. Whilst our organization has grown systemically, it has still maintained a welcoming, family feel. We have also expanded this year in terms of the cultures we seek to celebrate. In the past we have focused our intentions on South Asian cultures, but this year are expanding to present a multitude of elements from cultures across the continent of Asia.


Your support for SOS Children’s Village Multan since 2014 is a shining example of the work that non-governmental organisations can do. Is there much communication and collaboration between Sitara and the SOS scheme during the year, or does it come in the form of a cheque after the show and sponsorship? 

Our support of SOS Children’s Village Multan is something we value dearly. While the charity is based afar, we still retain a close relationship with the organization and after a collaboration of so long it is important to us that our charity remains at the core of the work we do.

Speaking of sponsorship, your show boasts Bobbi Brown, BT, and Kingfisher amongst a range of local businesses, one being Mammacita’s on Market Street. How much have the committee enjoyed the challenge of hosting your RAJA HAZE nights in a restaurant space?

We’ve loved hosting events at Mammacita throughout the year; the space itself has a laid back, relaxed feel but with plenty of character, which coincides with the ethos of Sitara. Mammacita also offers a perfect environment to enjoy shisha, which is a major element of Sitara 2019 and the events we have hosted throughout the year.


What’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to about the actual show?

Our fashion team has excelled this year and we cannot wait to see the clothing on the runway. The designers are sourced globally and the visual repertoire of all pieces together is a spectacle. Seeing the fashion come together with the hard work that our models and choreographers have put in will be a treat for us and our guests!


Your 2019 show aims to celebrate the moments between heritage and progress: what makes St Andrews such a special place to host Sitara in, with the current conception of it as being a town rooted in the past and tradition?

St Andrews offers a unique setting to Sitara 2019; it is steeped in history and set in such a beautiful seaside location. In balance with the cosmopolitan population, the multitude of languages heard around and the cultural diversity, St Andrews is an ideal platform to host our show. Sitara is founded upon the idea of a fusion of cultures, and thus to bring elements of different cultures into this setting fits our underlying intentions.

Last year’s afterparty saw a collaboration with Szentek – is there anything special in the works for afterparty attendees who don’t manage to get a ticket to the full show?

This year we are excited by what will be our biggest after party so far. Top Canadian R&B singer and songwriter Anders will feature at our After Party. Anders’ genre fuses infectious elements of pop with R&B which will guarantee the perfect way to carry our guests through their night following the hype of the show.


Sitara*’s incorporation of dance into the show during walks marks a significant shift from the cliché of fashion shows as being simply about the walk – how much does dance mean to Sitara*, and what can guests expect from this side of the show later in the semester?

The dancers mean a huge amount to Sitara and are an element we are particularly proud of. Dance is another facet through which a person or group of people can express themselves and therefore retains an important place in the wider organization. Our goal is that the show itself is fun, enjoyable for guests and engaging – the incredible talent of our dancers ensures this happens!

Photos courtesy of Sitara* Committee.