Part of National Museums Liverpool
This display featured a number of dresses owned by the artist and activist Grayson Perry. The selection included the dress worn by Grayson when he won the Turner Prize in 2003, as well as a number of dresses designed for the artist by students at Central Saint Martins.
Grayson Perry has been cross-dressing since he was a child, using it to step into a fantasy world where he felt safer. He describes himself as a transvestite and for him cross-dressing has an exciting, sexual aspect but he has no desire to become a female, nor to dress as a woman full-time.
After many years of experimenting with cross-dressing and wearing conventional female clothes, Grayson became dissatisfied with the lack of reaction he provoked. In response, he developed the persona known as Claire. Claire appears in public and in Grayson’s art in a number of different guises, ranging from a little girl in a frilly dress to an adult woman. As Claire, he can dress in an outrageously flamboyant way and enjoy the reaction she causes.
Grayson has designed many of Claire’s outfits himself, but every year the fashion students at London’s Central St Martin’s take part in a competition to design new dresses for her and Grayson encourages them to make the dresses as bizarre and exciting as they can.
A variety of these dresses made for Grayson were included in the display, as well as items from his personal wardrobe.
Walker Art Gallery
William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN
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"When I walk into a room, I want people to look at the dress and not me"
All images © Gareth Jones
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