Phi Delta Epsilon preps for 2019 ‘Anatomy Fashion Show’


Photo courtesy of Siddhi Shockey | Staff Writer

Students prepare backstage for Phi Delta Epsilon’s annual “Anatomy Fashion Show” last year.

By Amanda Giamalis, For The Pitt News

As fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan draw to a close, Pitt’s very own unique fashion extravaganza is just underway. For the third consecutive year at Pitt, artists and models alike will join in Bellefield Auditorium to strut, pose and paint on human bodies in order to pull off this one-night-only event, the annual “Anatomy Fashion Show.”

Presented by Phi Delta Epsilon, a pre-professional fraternity, the fashion show is one of its nationally recognized events. It has become so popular that the national committee has trademarked it. Pitt’s chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon has presented its spin on the fashion show since 2017, and it attracts a large audience. Each year, the proceeds from the show have gone to the Children’s Miracle Network, and this year is no different.

Throughout this year’s “Anatomy Fashion Show” — set to take place on Sunday — there will be food and games, but the main attraction is the organs on display for all to see. Not literally, of course, but artistically. Student artists from Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and Point Park will spend the day of the show painting bodily systems directly onto the skin of their models, who will then display them down the runway during the show.

“Last year I had to paint two models, and I had the cardiovascular system, so I did one very black and white, very scientific, with an echocardiogram, and the other was more artistic with different colors flowing throughout the body,” Andy Aukerman, a senior physics major and returning body painter, said.

The artists meet their models the day of the show. Many of the models are volunteers from various athletic clubs around campus, such as CrossFit or weightlifting. They adorn flesh-colored leotards before allowing themselves to become a living canvas.

The artists are given a few hours before the show to imagine, interpret and create their system. For many of the artists participating, it is their first time experimenting with the technique of body painting, which can be daunting. This is the part of the process many of the models and artists enjoy the most. Artists bond with their models, and models get their bodies turned into exhibitions for anatomical art.

“I got to know the people that I painted pretty well, and we still say hi to each other,” Aukerman said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Aside from painting on the bodies of his fellow students, Aukerman enjoys the cause of the event and the excitement it creates for the audience.

“[The show] is unique and fun, and even as an audience member you’re becoming engaged — not just with the event, but the Miracle Network and the cause as well,” he said.

Unlike previous years, Miracle Kids from Pittsburgh hospitals will not walk with the models in the fashion show, but this hasn’t stopped the members of Phi Delta Epsilon from getting excited about finding some new escorts — particularly of the four-legged variety.

“We’re going to have the service pups come, so they’re going to walk in the show. Two of the trainers are going to be painted,” Hilary Serbin, junior microbiology major and director of the fashion show, said. “That’s something new and special that we’re excited for.”

There are many other highlights new to 2019’s show as well, including performances by music and dance groups C Flat Run and Controlled Chaos, and an array of catered food options to pick from like Roots Natural Kitchen, Jimmy John’s and Insomnia Cookies, as well as minute-to-win-it games played by the models.

“I think playing games will be my favorite part because a lot of them are funny and I think the audience will get a good laugh out of them,” Dominick Openko, a junior neuroscience major and model in the upcoming show, said.

For Openko, the art and the biology that inspires it is the biggest reason to participate. The cause makes the event even better.

“I would love to paint if I was artistic at all, but since I’m not, it’s really nice to be able to participate in another way,” Openko said. “My favorite part about being a model is just being able to get painted by good artists and participating in an event for a good cause.”

The 2019 “Anatomy Fashion Show” will take place at 7 p.m. in Bellefield Auditorium on Sunday.


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