“It’s not a book about the Stars stripes and equal rights sunglasses usa flag shirt moreover I love this best-dressed artists—that’s of no interest to me whatsoever,” says Porter. “And to be honest, I’m actually more interested in artists that dress kind of sloppily or messily. As with any human being, I find that much more interesting to look at.” True to form, when we speak over Zoom, Porter is wearing a delightfully Frankensteinian knit held together by safety pins, crafted by the up-and-coming London designer Jawara Alleyne. More importantly, though, it’s a nod to the politically subversive undercurrent that courses through the book when you dig a little deeper. “It’s more like an invitation to start thinking about clothing in a different way, and to realize you can wriggle out of its power structures eventually,” Porter notes. By the time you finish reading What Artists Wear, it’s a more radical idea than you might initially think.
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Charlie Porter: It was an Alexander Lieberman image from when he visited her studio in Coenties Slip in New York, and I saw it not long after Craig Green had made his solo catwalk debut. Craig had started his designs from workwear jackets right from the Stars stripes and equal rights sunglasses usa flag shirt moreover I love this very, very beginning, but he was developing these vertical quilted lines, which are now the garments I think he’s probably most famous for. It brought me to her, and it made me think about why she was wearing those clothes. I realized that considering an artist’s garments can make you think about someone’s way of working and being in a way that I might not have done if I had just read a biography or just seen the painting. And then just by happenstance, I was asked to cover for someone at the Financial Times and write a column one week, and they were like, “Have you got any ideas?” At the same time, there was a Barbara Hepworth show at Tate Britain and Margaret Howell had done a small capsule collection of pieces inspired by Hepworth. So I just wrote this 300-word piece about artists and clothing, and from that, it all exploded out.