A Fashion Line That’ll Help Your Corpse Decompose in Style
Pia Interlandi’s clothes are to die for. No, really. Her bespoke label, Garments for the Grave, caters to clients who want something special to wear for their final occasion.
The idea started with a funeral: As Interlandi struggled to dress her grandfather’s body in a suit, she realized that the clothes we wear in life are poorly designed for death. The dead don’t need buttons and zippers. They don’t need tailoring. (Fitted pieces are difficult to put on.) They don’t particularly need shoes. Most important, the dead don’t need durability—corpses decompose but most synthetic fabrics don’t. “The body is a gift,” Interlandi says. “It’s a big bag of nutrients and water and protein. When you place it back into the earth, I think the garment is almost like wrapping paper.”
To determine the life expectancy of various fibers, Interlandi worked with a forensic scientist to bury 21 dead pigs in handmade outfits. Then they exhumed the carcasses periodically over a year to check the decomposition of different materials, all of which break down faster when buried with bodies than when buried alone.
Today her line includes shrouds that recall cocoons and kimonos. Apart from polyester embroidery and other legacy details designed to stay with the skeleton, none of her creations are built to last. Her signature touch, though, is final layers of fragile silk veils. Ephemeral fashion, they are pristine and beautiful for as long as they need to be. And then they turn to dust.