Stephen Willats re-enacts his seminal 60s work in which clothes become a vehicle for words, in the East Room and public spaces of Tate Modern.



Stephen Willats began MULTIPLE CLOTHING as a strategy to engage with the fabric of society, exploring clothing as a basic externalisation of the self. Made up as kits, the designs were created from many small units that zipped (or later Velcroed) together in various formations to make multiple garment types, including simple shift dresses and jackets. The self-determining nature of acquiring and assembling the kits to each wearer’s specification was essentially an amplification of the notion of self-organisation, a principle that began to emerge in politics, philosophy, science and art in this era. In their clean, functional sense of modernity, the modish, primary-coloured panel forms of Willats’s first works in the MULTIPLE CLOTHING series recall the geometric stylistics displayed in early avant-garde ballet and theatre designs, as well as embodying the spirit of the 1960s through their use of contemporary synthetic fabrics.