You can trace the beginning of PAI back to a single top. One top and a whole heap of interest. When artist Angie Pai and fashion designer Adrian Bressanutti first collaborated on a single piece, the response from potential buyers was so overwhelming that a label was born. Equal parts art and fashion, PAI is textural and slouchy though still chic and luxurious. It’s clothing that’s artistically interesting, but always wearable. With local musicians like Oscar Key Sung, Banoffee, and Klo championing the label on stage you know it’s only a matter of time before all the cool kids follow suit.
How would you define PAI?
Adrian: PAI’s definitely a label that incorporates a lot of crafty processes with really strong masculine lines. We wanted to create a label that was easy to wear but integrated something different. We use a lot of hand embroidery and crochet, something people wouldn’t usually associate with fashion or luxury. We interweave the two to make it comfortable but also luxurious.
Angie: Ninety percent of my wardrobe is my dad’s hand-me-downs and my brother’s hand-me-downs and they’re both really fat, so we wanted to make that look high fashion.
You’ve both got different backgrounds how did you use them to create PAI?
Angie: I’ve always been obsessed with art. My mum was really in to art and when I was really young she’d try and involve me and take me to museums. I had some really, really good art teachers as well. That’s kind of where it came from. I became obsessed with trying to interweave art in to different platforms of kind of everything. That’s how I started doing heaps of collaborations where I’d intermix photography with fine art and see if I could really push the boundaries of that. One time I wanted to make art on something that was wearable, so that it was yet another dimension. Anyway I did a really bad job, so I thought of Adrian. We made literally one top, I put it on social media, and we got like 50 inbox messages from people trying to buy it.
Were you two friends before you were partners?
We kind of were. We had a few mutual friends and knew who each other were.
Angie: Adrian had another label previously called Adrian Bressanutti that was really floral and lacey. I really wanted to shoot it and had this concept of a Marie Antoinette inspired kind of shoot. At the time I was doing heaps of really delicate paper cut outs and I wanted to make masks and headpieces. So I got in contact and he was in to it and then three months later I was like “sorry, didn’t realise time passed so much”. I had him over for dinner to apologise and make friends, but what ending up happening was Adrian came over and cooked dinner at my house. He made so much food, arancini entrees, and fresh pasta with a really elaborate filling. And I felt really guilty so I decided to be friends with him. That’s kind of how we became friends.
Was it weird transitioning from friends to partners?
Adrian: It’s funny how it works. I think we’re still transitioning. We do have a friendship but we know when things have to get serious. We both have a similar sense of humor so when someone gets frustrated the other will do something stupid and we’ll be back to normal.
Have you taken on certain roles in the way that you work together?
Angie: Definitely. It’s pretty much like if we have to go somewhere like the bank I’m not allowed to go. Or if we have to go and talk to CEOs or directors, I’ll stay back. But if it’s something like going and doing a shoot I’ll be there art directing.
Adrian: Yeah, if we’re doing a shoot I’ll just be carrying garments. It works if we’re running a business that we have defined roles.
Angie: It’s very much clear to everyone that I’m the dumb one.
Adrian: No, you’re the creative one.
How do you guys define the relationship between fashion and art?
Angie: I feel like a lot of time in my head is spent trying to think of ways we can use new application processes that we might not have seen. Obviously long-sleeves are a big thing right now, we thought that was really cool but we really wanted to think of a way to reinterpret that. We thought no one’s really done embroidery and on top of that no one’s done hand-embroidery. So that’s what we did and the response was great. The best is when people see them in real life and realise it’s really texturally different, we don’t just have cotton t-shirts that come in bulk packages, we’ve made them all from scratch.
Adrian: It’s not something we consciously do. That’s not our thing, trying to make fashion in to art. It’s rather about how can art translate in to something wearable. We’re just about exploring, stepping beyond the convention of what people have done like prints and stuff.
Texture seems like it’s a big part of the PAI aesthetic?
Adrian: Yeah to evoke another sense is a big thing. When associating fashion with art the more senses you activate the more it evokes the merging of the two.
Angie: It takes you longer to get bored of the garment. You end up noticing different things over time, you keep discovering as you go on.
Musicians seem to be a big part of how you’ve progressed, was that something you did on purpose?
Angie: What we’ve noticed, especially with this generation, is that it really is all about collaboration. That’s where new stuff is found and the groundbreaking stuff happens. Outside of this I do a lot of other collaborations with designers or artists, and you get really interesting stuff. And that’s what we found with musicians; instead of just getting models that are obviously aesthetically beautiful you get a backstory. It’s also about creating this art community where everyone’s really inspiring each other. I think that’s ultimately what we want to do, we want to be able to bring people together and appreciate the same things and help each other reach our goals.