Outfits designed for Grayson Perry’s alter ego Claire up for auction

<span>Photograph: Andy Hall/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Andy Hall/The Guardian

Outfits designed for Grayson Perry’s alter ego Claire, including a dress resembling a “child’s bib” and an oversized bra with pointed tips, have been put up for auction.

The online sale includes 39 pieces designed for the ceramicist and broadcaster by students from Central Saint Martins dating back 17 years. The funds raised will go to the fashion department of the London university.

The Turner prize-winning artist, known for his colourful and eccentric cross-dressing displays, has collaborated with students from the department since 2004 on a project called ‘Make Something Gorgeous for Grayson Perry’.

Second-year 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 by their 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 outfits being auctioned were on display.

“He has amassed the most incredible collection of work from us but it is time to share the love,” said Isabella Coraça, 35, a fashion communication lecturer and project leader.

“Grayson contacted us and said he had some outfits he wanted to sell but insisted the funds have to go back to the students,” she said.

It is understood the money raised will pay for fabrics and materials as well as scholarships.

Mimi Wade, a fashion designer and former student, said she was honoured that her design is the first lot on the auction. “I remember not finishing the dress in time and staying awake for two nights in a row while my housemates went to see Iggy Pop and I was so jealous. It feels like it paid off now,” she said.

Wade’s dress is flocked with drawings of Perry’s teddy bear, Alan Measles.

Wade attended a presentation given by Perry where he showed 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 made that was inspired by the movies, and I’ve gone on to create many collections inspired by films, and camp psychological horror has always been my favourite,” she said

Esme Young, 73, a fashion designer who has been involved in the project since its inception, said: “He’s a very nice man who is really generous to the students. He gives them £100 each to buy fabrics and awards his three favourites a ‘Claire’ – one of his ceramics. He buys a lot of the dresses and pays £500 each for them.”

“Some years he would buy everybody’s work, he would buy any that he loved,” said Coraça.

Once students have finished their designs, a fashion show is held where Perry tries on the outfits. “The students choose the music they want and he’ll dance and prance around to it,” said Young.

“If he likes it he’ll dance around elated and gleeful and if he’s disappointed with the result he’s hunched over with a drooping mouth in jest,” said Sarah Gresty, a course leader who has also been involved with the project since the start.

Perry has worn some of the outfits in public. A garment designed by Koko Kasugai, featuring handdrawn figurines and flowers, was worn by the artist at the Royal Academy of Art summer exhibition party in 2009.

The auction, which is open to buyers around the world, will close on 20 February.