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Meanjin label Pigsuit is bringing ‘chaotic good’ to Australian fashion

Photography by Charlie Hillhouse, Miriam Deprez, Marco Giuliano and Daniel Nadel
Full creative team credits below

After designer Rhiannon Daly began dressing her friends for drag shows, Pigsuit was born.

Trying to describe local label Pigsuit brings a discordant mix of words to mind – rebellious, anti-fashion, chaotic, yet somehow firmly within the zeitgeist – which I guess is the point of the project. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

It didn’t start as a fashion label but as a way for founder Rhiannon Daly to dress herself and her friends (she couldn’t find snakeskin boots anywhere, so she made some). As she continued pinning together pieces for drag shows and ‘crusty’ parties, she found her DIY pieces were in growing demand.


To get better acquainted with Australian designers, head to our Fashion section.


The idea was always to grow organically, and Rhiannon made the decision to do so without Instagram or any online presence at all. It seems an absurd idea in this era of fashion and, as the designer admits, it didn’t work. But it’s a decision that acts as a portrait of Rhiannon’s entire modus operandi. She marches to the beat of her own drum, creating the work she wants in the way she wants.

And of course, by rejecting the usual workings of the fashion industry, she’s found success within it. Below, we get to know the designer a little better.

Hi Rhiannon! Tell us about you and your entry into fashion. 

I am a Ngāti Kurī and Ngati Porou woman from Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Aotearoa. My background in fashion began as a form of protest. I loved dressing up in ways to challenge authoritative roles; always through dressing up or down.

Whether it be small instances of refusing to comply with uniform throughout schooling, dressing in drag with friends, sexually aggressive visual communication through clothing (or lack thereof) through pinning and sewing ourselves into fabrics before we’d play a punk show, the role of fashion has always been an integral part of my identity.

 

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A post shared by PIGSUIT (@pigsuit.au)

How did Pigsuit get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges. 

Pigsuit started as a shoe and DIY project. In 2015, I stocked a couple of styles of snakeskin boots exclusively through a friend’s underground store in Melbourne, purely because I wanted to wear snakeskin boots and there wasn’t anything around at the time.

Before then, I would throw together huge faux fur coats for my drag queen friends and me to perform in, or I’d just make glamourous things to wear to crusty parties.

I’ve never been a very good machinist; in fact, I hate it. So, it was a constant challenge. I was trying to start a label without wanting to charge money for garments and I couldn’t afford a seamstress, so I’d just give Pigsuit away.

 

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What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved? 

At the time, I was very anti-establishment and anti-traditional in my ways of breaking into the fashion industry. I had this vision that Pigsuit would speak for itself, by not saying anything at all, and not at all through social media or online. And obviously, that didn’t work out. So I got the ‘anti’ out of my system by starting an anti-theatre, anti-everything noise band. I went off-grid, re-connected with my heritage and Māori culture and started my (slow) journey with te reo.

When I came back to Pigsuit, I’d learnt to be more embracive and so had the brand. It’s now a glamorous collaboration of fashion and art that touches on politics, activistic mentality and standing up for what we believe in.

How would you describe Pigsuit to someone who’s never seen it before? 

Pigsuit is a slap in the face, it’s a double-take and a conversation starter, a bulldozer.

Where did the name come from? 

Pigsuit came from somewhere a little fun, somewhere a little sexy and somewhere a little odd, it’s a foxymoron. It came from place that initially didn’t take itself too seriously because I don’t take myself too seriously.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label? 

I think I’m most proud of the evolution of Pigsuit, that it started it off as a DIY project that turned into this ever-growing label I see on people I respect and admire, all over the world.

I’ve also been able to use Pigsuit as a vehicle to fundraise and raise awareness for causes I believe in, while simultaneously collaborating with First Nations artists, sharing my korero (conversation) with like-minded individuals and creating a space for everyone that goes a little against the grain.

 

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A post shared by PIGSUIT (@pigsuit.au)

What do you wish you knew when you started? 

How to do my taxes.

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now? 

What’s happening in Meanjin is what I think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now. People discount Brisbane and flock to the bigger cities for trends and popular culture when, in fact, this place oozes with authentic and fabulous freaks. They thrive on being fashionably and cooly themselves and I’m living for it.

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

Manufacturing within Australia, gatekeepers, inclusivity, consumer behavior and the mentality that moving overseas will warrant success.

Dream Australian collaborators? 

Leigh Bowery (RIP), Kylie Minogue, Rowland S Howard (RIP). Oh, and Kath and Kim!

Go-to dinner party playlist? 

Disco, darling! The theme is usually ‘disco, disco’ when we’re re-creating a Studio 54 dinner* fantasy, feeling fabulous in vintage Halston with our close and chic inner circle.

 

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Who is in your wardrobe right now? 

Other than the Mummy in my closet, very old Lacroix, jewellery by Seon-Im You, Louboutins past their use-by date, oversized Tom of Finland and Bruce La Bruce tees, and my Pigsuit SEX heels in pink

How can we buy one of your pieces? 

We’re purely online, with the occasional pop-ups and party. I’d subscribe to keep an eye out.

 Anything else to add? 

Black trans lives matter. Aroha nui!

*Chain-smoking and French Champagne.

Dive into the fabulously irreverent world of Pisguit here.


Team credits

IMAGE ONE
PHOTOGRAPHER – CHARLIE HILLHOUSE / STYLIST – RHIANNON D / MUA – SARAH SMITH / MODELS – FINLEY AND SHAYE
IMAGE TWO
PHOTOGRAPHER – MIRIAM DEPREZ / STYLIST – TULLY / MUA – SARAH SMITH / MODEL – GOLDA GUIDO AT RIN MODELS
IMAGE THREE
PHOTOGRAPHER – MARCO GIULIANO / STYLIST – ANCA MACAVEI / MODEL – ANA TAKU AT WONDERWALL MANAGEMENT
IMAGE FOUR
ART DIRECTOR & STYLIST – CATHERINE V / PHOTOGRAPHER – DANIEL NADEL / MODEL – YAYA DENG
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