New College DIY shines like the stars: a COUP lookbook
Ellary Combs at COUP. Photo by Alexandra Levy

New College DIY shines like the stars: a COUP lookbook

On the night of March 2, alien heartbreakers ran rampant in Palm Court at New College’s Valentine’s Day Star-Crossed Lovers Center of the Universe Party (COUP). Glow in the dark stars and metallic dresses lit up the night as performances by live bands transported students to another planet. The Catalyst reached out to document some innovative and creative looks by Novos that were out of this world. 

The theme was inspired by the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet. Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film adaptation of the Shakespeare classic features Claire Danes as Juliet in her iconic angel costume. Thesis student Lola Swanson was inspired by Juliet’s angel but included their own twist. They attributed their angel-alien look to images of biblical angels. 


Clare Danes and Leonardo Dicaprio in Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Printerval.

Ezekiel 10:12 describes angels this way: “Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes.” Swanson covered their face with glued-on googly eyes to bring this description to life. “I kind of ran with the multiple eyes thing. I put them all over my face and all over my top and for the wings, I glued three different wings together to make a different kind of wing shape than just like the little two angel wings,” Swanson told the Catalyst. 

Swanson wanted to pay tribute to the fact that aliens are these “creatures that are unfamiliar to us. And aliens make me think about different sensory systems that we’re not used to.”

Swanson with their biblical angel look. Photo courtesy of Lola Swanson.

Swanson covered their body with pink hair dye to stay on theme with aliens. “I wanted to incorporate the alien theme and I love a fun color.” Swanson still has pink eyebrows. “I didn’t want to put a bunch of makeup all over me and have it be rubbing off all night so the base of my pink is hair dye and I used that to dye my skin.” 

Swanson has been into clothes since they were little and their grandmother taught them how to sew. Swanson spent 10 hours hot gluing and taping their top.

 “It was a nice excuse to have a little project, just because that’s something that I definitely neglect in favor of academics,” Swanson commented. “I think using a wardrobe to put together is more of a temporary art. And makeup as well, like you get to wipe it away at the end of the night.” Swanson described loving the chance to  express their creativity and style on their body, saying their body is like their canvas and coming up with a makeup or clothing look is like mixing oils and paints. 

New College parties provide a non-judgmental atmosphere where they can display their art, Swanson said. “I love New College for its academics, but something I was really excited about coming here was all of the themed parties. I don’t really spend a lot of time doing makeup in my day to day. So I really like to take advantage of a theme party as an opportunity to come up with a creative look and execute it.”

Swanson advised those who are afraid to let themselves go at a New College party and embrace their inner artists to abandon any plans of achieving a specific and perfected look. “I used to be really intimidated, and thought I can’t do a perfect sharp-winged eyeliner, but it’s because I had never tried. Whenever I would try, I really enjoyed myself. And that’s what motivated me to do it more.”

Swanson in their angel ensemble. Photo courtesy of Lola Swanson. 

Thesis student Sabine Wittman went with a purple alien theme. “I was just trying to go for a vibe and the idea in my head was an ethereal alien princess warrior kind of moment.”

“I liked the idea of a Star Wars kind of influence with the hood that I made.” Wittman hand sewed her entire outfit from iridescent fabric purchased at Joann’s.  She recalled that she stared at the fabric for a long time, fantasizing about its endless possibilities to bring her COUP dreams to life. She had never used a sewing machine until her close friend, thesis student and New College Student Alliance (NCSA) president Grace Keenan, taught her how to use one. “My very novice experience with the sewing machine made me frustrated after a while and I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna use brute force and spend hours hand sewing it.” Wittman learned to sew when she was little from her grandmother and an elementary school class. 

Grace Keenan (left) and Sabine Wittman in their COUP ensembles. Photo courtesy of Sabine Wittman. 

“Creating my COUP outfits is one of my absolute favorite things ever. It genuinely keeps me going through classes and everything else. At least I can, at the end of the day, sit down and just think about my look and what that’s gonna look like and how I’m gonna put it together and kind of engineer it.” A political science and German Area of Concentration (AOC), Wittman craves a creative outlet.. “The process is just so fun and cathartic.” 

Wittman has always been a lover of fashion and altering clothes to showcase their personal style and creativity.  “As a plus-size person, it’s always difficult to find things that I’m really looking for. Like altering and crafting come into play, because, you know, I have more control if I’m making the garment.”

Wittman loves New College parties because everyone brings unique and inspiring looks. “It’s such an accepting community here at parties and I feel like you can really try anything and see what you get.” She finds the New College party atmosphere a non-judgemental place to show off one’s carefully crafted looks. “It’s just like a big celebration of everyone’s creativity.”

Sabine Wittman in her purple COUP look. Photo by Alexandra Levy 

First year and sewing connoisseur Ellary Combs shares what she calls her pink-pink-pink look. “The only thing that came to my mind when I thought of star-crossed lovers was aliens and outer space. I wanted to go big or go home. At first, I was going to go all green but I wanted to be more of a baddie so I went pink. I decided to go all pink.” 

And pink she did—Combs shared that she is still scrubbing pink makeup from her ears and nails. 

Ellary Combs in her COUP outfit. Photo courtesy of Ellary Combs. 

Combs hand sewed her holographic bikini ensemble from scratch, using a sheet of fabric purchased from Joann’s. “The sewing process was a little bit of a learning curve because I couldn’t use my sewing machine on it, the fabric kept getting stuck so I hand sewed it.” Combs said she would multitask and could be spotted sewing her look in various public places around campus, including when she was working the desk at New College’s Recreational Center. 

“I have known how to sew since I was little. I used to sew clothes for my Barbies out of socks and for my American Girl dolls. I got my first baby sewing machine when I was ten,” Combs recalled.

The pink took Combs about 15 minutes because she had a small team applying her pigment for the night. “I was in the dorm common room wearing nothing but my little booty shorts and they were helping me spread the pink dye all over me. Literally everywhere. There were three of us.” 

For her makeup look, Combs was not shy about sparkling. She generously applied rhinestones all over. “I put them all over my face and stomach with lots of glitter. I think I used like four different types of glitter.”

Combs consulted Pinterest to inspire her makeup looks. “I have been experimenting with crazier and cooler colorful looks. I love colors and lines, like shapes and dots.”

Combs gives advice for those too nervous to concoct wild looks. “Don’t be nervous to go all out because no matter what you wear there are always people there who are dressed crazier than you. Just go big or go home. You can never be too crazy at a New College COUP.”  

First years Ellary Combs and Brenna Magliacane. Photo courtesy of Ellary Combs.

Second-year Lainey Rose went with a blue alien theme. “When I first heard the theme, I knew I wanted to go all out. I started creating a Pinterest board to find inspiration and get some ideas. I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be an alien,” Rose told the Catalyst over email. 

Rose used a mix of various components from the thrift store, friends and Amazon to concoct their intergalactic blue alien. “It was honestly a really affordable costume and I think I only spent a total of $25 including the body paint. I am a broke college girl, so I don’t have a ton of money to spend on costumes. Especially with different Wall themes each week, I have to get creative, unless I want to break my bank account.”

 Rose recycled parts of their costume from past Wall looks, as everything can be made new again. “The hardest part of my costume was by far the makeup. We started getting ready around 6:30 p.m. and didn’t finish until about 10 p.m. The majority of this process was spent just making sure my whole body was blue.” It’s a hard life, just ask a Smurf or Cookie Monster

Lainey Rose in her blue ensemble. Photo courtesy of Lainey Rose. 

“COUP is such an exciting event and I look forward to it every year. It was also nice to be able to take a break this COUP and spend more time getting ready,” Rose commented. Rose hosted Haunted Carnival COUP and was not able to enjoy the “getting ready” process as much as they did this COUP. 

“I love how everyone here commits to a theme. Nobody holds back and the creativity is insane. Not only do we get to attend such an epic party, but all night I found myself admiring costume after costume and I am so happy to have that!”

Lainey Rose at COUP. Photo courtesy of Lainey Rose. 

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