Pia Interlandi is a fashion designer whose work often incorporates death as a scientific and psychological concept. She has a particular interest in textile manipulation and garment transformation, informed by her time in Japan under the instruction of Yoshiki Hishinuma. While studying fashion, she began experimenting with dissolvable fabrics as method of exploring life’s transient qualities. This became the basis of her current PhD study at Melbourne’s RMIT University under the supervision of Dr Pia Ednie-Brown. Entitled 'Dressing Death: Garments for the Grave', the doctoral study has evolved into the design of funerary garments and even the dressing of the deceased. Part of this study was undertaken at SymbioticA, where she researched the effects of clothing and textiles on decomposition. Involving rigorous immersion in the rituals associated with preparing the body for interment, garments from this investigation are currently on exhibit at the London Science Museum. Concurrent with her doctoral research and production, Pia teaches within the Fashion School at RMIT, is the head designer of cut Melbourne based fashion label ‘Hhhh...’ and is a certified funeral celebrant.
Within moments of our birth we are wrapped in the culture of clothing, and while fashion and ritual are an integral aspect of our living existence, this research investigates the role of fashion and clothing at the end of life and beyond: from the ‘grave to the cradle’.
In almost every human culture, when an individual is prepared for burial or cremation, their body is dressed in a garment. A garment that will literally and symbolically become part of the body as it decomposes. But if we are no longer dressing for our mind or our body, what are we dressing for? What consideration is involved in the fashioning of death?
Observing ‘eco’ trends in both the apparel and funeral industries, transformational processes including decomposition, dissolving, and reincarnation are explored in order to create a series of garments that explore the relationship between garment and [deceased] body.
Aiming to embody notions of ‘life cycles’ and the philosophy of ‘cradle to cradle’ design, the garments and textiles will be used in conjunction with performance and ritual, eventually to be used as proposed alternatives for internment.
June – August, September 2009; Part-time 2010