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96/298/1 Performance costume (16), 'Cowdyke', Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, textile/plastic/metal, designed, made and worn by Philippa Playford, made in Stanwell Tops, Sydney, Australia, 1995. Click to enlarge.

'Cowdyke' costume by Philipa (Pip) Playford

Designed
Performance costume, 'Cowdyke', Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, textile/plastic/metal, Philippa Playford, Stanwell Tops, Sydney, Australia, 1995. Costume entitled 'Cowdyke' comprising (-1) pyjama top, cowhide print, and (-2) pyjama pants, cowhide print, (-3) belt, pink fake fur, (-4) chaps, cowhide print, (-5/1:2) shoes, hoof shaped, pink fake fur, (-6) hat, tall, conical, topped with a mirror ball and trimmed with fake fur horns and pearl draped kewpie dolls, (-7/1) backpack, pink, heart shaped, …

Summary

Object No.

96/298/1

Object Statement

Performance costume (16), 'Cowdyke', Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, textile/plastic/metal, designed, made and worn by Philippa Playford, made in Stanwell Tops, Sydney, Australia, 1995

Physical Description

Performance costume, 'Cowdyke', Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, textile/plastic/metal, Philippa Playford, Stanwell Tops, Sydney, Australia, 1995. Costume entitled 'Cowdyke' comprising (-1) pyjama top, cowhide print, and (-2) pyjama pants, cowhide print, (-3) belt, pink fake fur, (-4) chaps, cowhide print, (-5/1:2) shoes, hoof shaped, pink fake fur, (-6) hat, tall, conical, topped with a mirror ball and trimmed with fake fur horns and pearl draped kewpie dolls, (-7/1) backpack, pink, heart shaped, fake fur, into which slot (-7/2:8) seven banners each topped with a letter, spelling out 'Cowdyke', (-8) lariat.

Production

Notes

Designer Philippa Playford chose one of the traditional icons of lesbian drag, the tomboy cowgirl on which to base her costume 'Cowdyke'. She had always liked Country and Western music, its campy glitzy nature and the potential it held for lesbian drag.

Reclaiming images and language that were once used to denigrate members of the gay and lesbian community has become an important part of design for mardi gras. In this costume Philippa prominantly displays the title 'COWDYKE' playing on a more politically correct form of what was generally considered a term of derision for butch lesbians, bulldyke. Here she makes it large, displays it proudly and subverts its negative connotations.

Philippa won 'Best Costume Worn by a Woman' in the costume competition at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. This was the first year the costume competition included a separate category for women.

Philippa Playford made the costume in a week. She set herself a very strict timetable for making each part so that she could complete it on time.

History

Notes

Worn by Philippa Playford in the 1995 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. She made it very light and easy to wear to ensure that she could enjoy herself on the night and not have to worry about the costume being too heavy or falling apart.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1996

Acquisition Date

1 September 1996

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Cowdyke' costume by Philipa (Pip) Playford 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 9 December 2022, <https://ma.as/152383>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/152383 |title='Cowdyke' costume by Philipa (Pip) Playford |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=9 December 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.