Boston Symphony Orchestra's Project Debussy

Fashion students inspired by the music of Claude Debussy debuted their designs

(Designer Kowoon Jeong, from the School of Fashion Design and winner of the competition, watches her model get ready.)

Design a dress inspired by the music of Claude Debussy. That was the challenge given to area fashion and design students, who showed off their work at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Project Debussy last night.

The young energy was palpable in Symphony Hall. “It’s great to get students involved with the music,” says Sarah Manoog, Director of Marketing for the BSO and the brains behind the annual Project series. “I did come up with it, but it’s taken on a life of it’s own,” she says. “The designers have really made it theirs.”

I snuck backstage before the show to see the dresses. Models shuffled carefully from the steamer to the jewelry and make-up tables as the designers hovered around them. Flowers were pinned on, trains held up, and fly-away hairs smoothed. They models and designers walked out for a preview before the BSO presented its Strauss, Dutilleux, and Debussy concert, featuring Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit and French cellist Gautier Capuçon — and patrons admired the ruffles and delicate stitching as the girls posed on the red carpet.

The actual fashion show took place just after the concert. Judging the dresses were Catheline van den Branden, president and executive director of the French Cultural Center, fashion designer Sara Campbell, Improper Bostonian columnist Jonathan Soroff, Alan Bilzerian, owner of the boutique by the same name, and Althea Blackford, executive producer and host of Style It Up. Designer Teresa Calabro secured the “People’s Choice” category, and Kowoon Jeong was crowned the overall winner of Project Debussy for her stunning moonlight-inspired gown.

And Manoog put it, “this event is great for Symphony and great exposure for the designers.” After all, who couldn’t use a bit of celebratory glam in February?

(Teresa Calabro, left, and Kowoon Jeong with their models / Photo by Stu Rosner)

Here are some photos I took backstage and during the pre-show walk:

(Nicole Clancy wears a design by Lasell College’s Lindsay Holcomb.)

(Katie Suji Kim, of Mount Ida College, says of her design, “the music flows like water, and reminded me of watercolor, so I used brocade to get the smudge-like effect of the paint.”)

(Alison models a design by Lasell College’s Amanda Erickson. Erickson sewed the gold details on the dress by hand.)