burial clothesMost designers plan their work using sketches, or maybe a mood board or two. Pia Interlandi dressed and buried 21 dead pigs to see how fabric affects decomposition.

Interlandi studied fashion in Melbourne before coming up with the idea for Garments for the Grave, a line of funeral garments for the dead to wear in their coffins. It might seem like a morbid or difficult concept, but death is inevitable. We just don’t tend to like to think about it.

“In almost every human culture, when an individual is prepared for burial or cremation, their body is dressed in a garment that will literally and symbolically become part of the body as it returns to the earth,” she says.

According to The Sun:

Pia says the “lightbulb” moment came when it came to shoes for her grandad. She said: “He wasn’t going to walk anywhere so why did he need them? I questioned why there were no other options than putting his ‘living’ clothes back on.”

Burying people in leather shoes and polyester did not seem to make a lot of sense. Leather shoes could take an eternity to decompose, and the idea of dressing someone in nylons and jackets seemed laughable when talking about a person who no longer needed to be kept warm.

So for her doctoral research she dressed and buried 21 dead pigs and dug them up every 50 days to track how they and their burial garments were decomposing. The hemp garments dried up and crumbled to dust almost immediately, and the silk took about 250 days. The polyester, she said, could practically have been rinsed off and used again.

She told Funeralwise.com:

I was looking at forensics and how fibers decompose. One thing I found was World War I soldiers, up until 20 years ago were being discovered and all they were finding were leather boots and a skeleton foot inside. The boots were in such pristine condition that they were able to find out what army the man had been in, what unit, who made the boots. Another thing I found out about is nylon tights. Because nylon is actually a really strong fiber, it has lots of elasticity. If clothing that is on a body has a nylon band, then as soon as you start getting bacterial decomposition in the gut there is bloating and the nylon band prevents the bacteria from getting below the waistband. What ends up happening is the top half of you decomposes normally, but the lower half mummifies. So when the zombie apocalypse comes you’ll have all these ladies walking around in heels and tights on actual legs but the top of them will be skeletonized. I began to realize that what you wear can affect how you decompose.

Interlandi’s designs are also built around ease of dressing so families can dress the deceased themselves, without having to move the body around too much.

Interlandi’s first client was a 60-year-old woman in good health who commissioned her burial clothes as part of an effort to get in touch with her own mortality. Since then, she’s been contacted by several more clients. While she says she hates to charge for the commissions, prices range from £150 to £600 ($231 to $923).

Via The Sun/Photo: Facebook/Pia Interlandi – Garments for the Grave