Photograph: Andy Hall/The Guardian
Outfits designed for Grayson Perry’s alter ego Claire, including a dress resembling a “boy’s bib” and an oversized bra with pointy tips, have been put up for auction.
The online sale includes 39 pieces designed for the ceramicist and broadcaster by Central Saint Martins students for 17 years. The funds raised will go to the fashion department of the University of London.
The Turner Prize-winning artist, known for his colorful and eccentric displays of cross-dressing, has been collaborating with department students since 2004 on a project called ‘Make Something Gorgeous for Grayson Perry.’
Sophomore design students were tasked with making an outfit for Claire, Perry’s alter ego. Each student receives £100 for fabrics and materials and £500 if Perry was impressed with her work and wanted to take the garment home.
An event to celebrate the launch of the auction was held at Central Saint Martins on Friday, where some of the auctioned sets were on display.
“You’ve amassed the most incredible collection of our work, but it’s time to share the love,” said Isabella Coraça, 35, a fashion communication professor and project leader.
“Grayson contacted us and said he had some outfits he wanted to sell, but he insisted the funds go back to the students,” she said.
It is understood that the money raised will pay for fabrics and materials, as well as scholarships.
Mimi Wade, a fashion designer and alumnus, said she was honored that her design was the first lot in the auction. “I remember not finishing the dress on time and staying up two nights in a row while my housemates went to see Iggy Pop and I was so jealous. It seems like it paid off now,” she said.
Wade’s dress is covered in drawings of Perry’s teddy bear, Alan Measles.
Wade attended a Perry presentation where he displayed items that informed his work and his style as Claire. Among them was a still from the 1975 version of The Stepford Wives.
“Looking back, this was the first piece I did that was inspired by the movies, and I’ve created a lot of movie-inspired collections, and camp psychological horror has always been my favorite,” she said.
Esme Young, 73, a fashion designer who has been involved with the project since its inception, said: “He is a very nice man who is very generous to the students. He gives them £100 each to buy fabric and awards his favorite three with a ‘Claire’, one of his ceramics. He buys many dresses and pays £500 for each one”.
“Some years I would buy everyone’s work, I would buy anyone I loved,” Coraça said.
After the students have finished their designs, a fashion show is held where Perry tries on the outfits. “Students choose the music they want and he dances to it and prances around,” Young said.
“If he likes it, he dances elated and joyful, and if he’s disappointed with the result, he playfully slouches with his mouth open,” said Sarah Gresty, course leader who has also been involved with the project from the beginning.
Perry has worn some of the outfits in public. The artist wore a garment designed by Koko Kasugai, featuring hand-drawn figures and flowers, at the Royal Academy of Art’s summer exhibition party in 2009.
The auction, which is open to buyers from all over the world, will close on February 20.