IVALO x Kiasma: Grayson Perry - GOWNS FOR CLAIRE

Stella Saastamoinen

Stella Saastamoinen

In collaboration with Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Jari-Pekka Vanhala, curator of Kiasma, tells about the museum's newly opened exhibition with one of UK's most influencing artists when it comes to commenting on the contemporary culture and society - Grayson Perry.

Grayson Perry, 2016
Grayson Perry, 2016
© Richard Ansett

by Jari-Pekka Vanhala

Central St Martins in London, a prestigious art school and the alma mater of such celebrities as Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and John Galliano, organises an unusual design competition for its students every year. The object of the competition known as the Grayson Perry Project is to create a new outfit for Claire, Perry’s colourful transvestite alter ego. Claire is not only model and muse for the contestants but also a client, as she is in the habit of purchasing many of the creations presented in the competition. The best outfit wins the Golden Claire Award.

The contest has been held since 2004 for second-year students, with around twenty contestants participating every year. For a period of five weeks, Grayson Perry assumes the role of a tutor to inspire the students and to explain to them his philosophy of dress and also the strong and weak points of his physique that need to be taken into consideration when designing the outfit. Anything sporty or denim is out of the question, for example, nor is Perry interested in skirts, blouses or frocks. Claire’s style has evolved over the years, becoming increasingly extravagant and flashy.

Dressing up is for Perry’s Claire persona a way of expressing herself in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

The competition is actually quite useful for Perry who needs new outfits constantly, ever more fantastic looks that never cease to astound. They fly in the face of all conventional dress codes while forging new trends in which elements from Victorian fashion to psychedelic anime blend into a seamless whole. Dressing up is for Perry’s Claire persona a way of expressing herself in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

Artist's Robe, 2004
Grayson Perry
Artist's Robe, 2004
© Grayson Perry
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London / Venice

Grayson Perry is a Turner award winner and a celebrity who has made several TV programmes for Channel Four. Dressing and fashion are, alongside ceramics, sculpture and tapestries, at the very core of Perry’s art. At the turn of 2018, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool held an exhibition of his outfits under the title Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry’s Dresses.

The Grayson Perry exhibition in Kiasma is an extensive survey of Perry’s artistic output, and it also features some of Claire’s dresses, including a magnificent cape made of silk brocade with ceramic buttons and leather accessories.

See a video of the processes behind the creation of these extravagant gowns:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKRnjPwp7KI
The Making of Grayson's New Robes
University of the Arts London
Published on 29 September 2017

IVALO Fashion team's Ida and Stella got to visit the opening night of the Grayson Perry exhibition! Here you can see some of the art from the exhibition.

The amazing gowns created by the students from Central St Martins art school

Grayson Perry
The Vanity of Small Differences
2012

Grayson Perry
Kenilworth AM1
2010

Grayson Perry: Folk Wisdom exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma 13 April – 9 September 2018

Mannerheiminaukio 2, FIN-00100
Helsinki, Finland

Stella Saastamoinen

Stella Saastamoinen

Content Creator

stella@ivalo.com

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