Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 86

PIA INTERLANDI fabric. The back section of the garment is laid down on a bed before the body is placed on top. The dignity of the dead is important, so an apron is first draped over the body. The front piece flips over the shoulders with an opening for the head. Cords running through silk highlights allow adjustment of the garment’s length and shape. You are dressing, and addressing, each part of the body individually. The head, hands and feet, commonly associated with identity, are each dressed with additional layers. The feet are placed together inside a footbag, and each hand is placed inside an organza sleeve. Lastly, the face is covered with a sheer veil. While the bags and veils also have practical applications, the main reason for these different pieces and differing opacities originates from people saying that closing the coffin lid felt like they were slamming the door on the person they loved. The intention with the layering is to slow this process down, to softly and gradually cover the body, a fading away rather than a harsh separation from sight. The simplicity of my designs offers a graceful ritual for an emotional situation. The ease with which a body is dressed allows people to relax, to sit with and savor the last moments with their loved one. I always encourage families to bring the person’s favorite perfume. A husband who doesn't want to feel the coldness of his wife's skin can still participate in the ritual through spraying perfume as the last veil in the dressing process. Whilst you're veiling, you're also unveiling. If it weren't for death, I would never share this sacred part of life. Yes, I make frocks, but they make me as well. Each experience I have with someone and their dressing becomes part of my life and inspires me to move forward and transform. My clients often want to integrate beloved garments that are not made from natural fibers. I don't say, "No, you can't use that because it isn’t biodegradable." Our bodies can have false teeth, silicon implants, knee reconstructions and other artificial elements. These are moments when I step back from my ideal and adapt to my client’s wishes. It's a symbiotic relationship. One of my clients loved a 70’s metallic tube dress. We used that as the central panel surrounded by plain white cotton that her family painted. It looked galactic. When I'm fashioning a garment, I'm making a piece of clothing, but I in turn am being fashioned by the person, family or community whose journey I am joining. In January of 2017, Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of MoMA, commissioned me to make a piece for their Items: Is Fashion Modern? exhibition. I was asked to create a new prototype for the 'Little Black Dress', to sit as it's final stage of evolution next to designs by Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, and Rick Owens. I wanted to return to the original origins of 'black' as associated with death in Western culture. I also wanted to highlight that my garments are never really about 'The Dress', but the 'dress-ing' process. I dyed a shroud with a heat-sensitive thermochromic dye The simplicity of my designs offers a graceful ritual for an emotional situation. 86 | ART OF DYING