SOMATIC is a fashion line that takes inspiration from old textbook anatomy illustrations, reinventing them through a modern fashion lens. Developed by Jessa Westheimer, a CMU undergraduate studying Art and Neurobiology, each look incorporates embroidery and soft sculpture to depict some aspect or system of human anatomy, elevating it to a high-fashion ensemble. SOMATIC is designed to cause the viewer to consider themselves, the structures which keep them alive, and the inherent beauty of their form. The garments intend to break the rigidity of how the body is typically portrayed, by highlighting the contours produced in the thread and folds created by the materiality of the fabric; these looks seek to define the intersection between medically accurate and socially acceptable human anatomy with thread and fabric to highlight beautiful imperfections which engender beautiful forms.
SOMATIC considers the relationship we have with our bodies, especially with what is beneath our skin. I believe it important to reflect on the way we are designed and the structures, systems, and forms that sustain us. We are not at all the Vitruvian Man or an illustration in an anatomy textbook or a Photoshopped photo in a magazine. We are imperfect and beautiful, and somehow, all the parts of our bodies keep us moving and living.
SOMATIC was supported by Microgrants #2020-057 and #2021-005 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier.