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Photos by George Garnier; Make-up by Patrycja Grim
Photos by George Garnier; Make-up by Patrycja Grimm

Going In For The Kill

Reid Peppard is taking taxidermy to new levels of luxury creating androgynous jewellery and accessories out of creatures' corpses

Born and raised in California, Reid Peppard is now based in London after doing a Foundation Degree and Fine Art Bachelors Degree at Central Saint Martins. As a member of the taxidermist’s Guild in the UK, she taxidermies all the animals (with few exceptions) in her sculptural work and installations which have also been shown as part of Hackney Wicked Art Festival. Using little white mice heads and the wings of birds, 'scent, sound, texture and moving image' are often incorporated within her work, whilst exploring the boundaries between the real and the unreal, fiction and reality, to create something that she feels 'engages as a theatrical satire'.

She juxtaposes luxurious materials with carefully reconstructed corpses of small 'vermin' like a little rat protruding from the centre of a black leather bowtie adorned with Swarovski crystal eyes, whilst 'London caught' mice clutch at silver metal skulls hanging from silver chains. Expanding the collection beyond jewellery, also hand-crafted is a coin purse made entirely of a large white rat complete with a black velvet lining, pigeon wing headpieces and hair combs amongst the winged necklaces.

Dazed Digital: Tell us about your collection?
Reid Peppard: My recent collection of work is called the Vermin Collection. It is a collection of taxidermy accessories that I have crafted from London’s vermin and feeder rats. Aesthetically these pieces are as beautiful and delicate as they are powerful and abrasive. This collection challenges our attitudes towards waste, fur and animal bi-products. It is visually striking, yet intellectually stimulating… a catalyst for further discussion.

DD: Who do you have in mind when designing?
Reid Peppard: Daphne Guinness.

DD: What reactions have you been getting to your work?
Reid Peppard: It’s funny actually - whenever I’ve worn my work out, I’ve been surprised by how positive people have reacted.  As a rule, the people who approach me are genuinely interested, and simply want to learn more about the taxidermy process and my motives behind creating these pieces. I think that people are initially shocked, but then fascinated… I’ve been very fortunate in that I have yet to encounter any red paint-splashing lunatics (knock on wood). 

DD: Where do you find your creatures?
Reid Peppard: The pigeons, mice and rats that I use are either found as road kill in the streets of London, caught by my cat (the ferocious yet furry Panasonic), extinguished by pest controllers, or bought frozen as snake food from pet shops (with the remains fed to the afore mentioned ferocious feline).

DD: Are there any similarities between fashion and taxidermy?
Reid Peppard: Well, I would argue absolutely. I think that historically animal skins have been preserved for use in garments far more frequently than for the sake of trophy mounts. The word ‘Taxidermy’ comes from ‘skin arranging’ in Greek. So if one was to take that in the most literal sense… any garment that is made using skin is a sort of taxidermy. 

DD: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Reid Peppard: Some West Coast Native American Shaman believed in wearing the full skin of a bear would give them immense power, as well as the ability to protect against evil. I really respect the Native American approach towards the preservation and wearing of skins. I would like very much to collaborate with people who incorporate such beauty, symbolism and care into the animals they eat and wear.

DD: What are your plans next?
Reid Peppard: I don’t want to give too much away, but I am probably just a bit too excited about the squirrel bomber hat I’m making at the moment to keep it under wraps… and my friend Matty over at the Stag’s Head in Dalston says his brother might be sending me down a stag of two in the near future…

DD: What would you do if you weren't designing?
Reid Peppard: Am I designing? I did my degree in fine art, so it feels a bit funny to be called a “designer”. I suppose I consider myself to be in some sort of grey area between the two. But if I weren’t doing what I’m doing now… oh god! I don’t think I could do anything other than what I’m doing now!

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